What should the Clippers do as #BoycottClippers trends?


What will Chris Paul, Clippers player and NBA union president, do? (Danny Moloshok / AP)

In the midst of the storm that was created when TMZ published a recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend to stop bringing blacks to games and to delete an Instagram photo she’d taken with Magic Johnson, that owner’s team will face the Golden State Warriors in an NBA playoff game Sunday.

Just what should the Clippers do? #BoycottClippers may be trending on Twitter, but that may not be feasible for the team, which plays Game 4 in a series it leads 2-1 at 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday at Golden State. On Saturday morning, the NBA announced that it is looking into the matter and Clippers players met late Friday night to discus the situation. They are, according to reports, angry and DeAndre Jordan Instagrammed an image of nothing but blackness Saturday afternoon.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reports that players were being pressured by family and friends to protest by not playing Sunday.

Chris Paul is the president of the National Basketball Players Association and a boycott would take the focus from where it needs to be: on the owner’s suite. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski  says this is about the owners and the league’s longest-tenured owner. After all, Sterling paid a nearly $3 million fine in a 2009 settlement after allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics, blacks and to families with children. Troubling comments about Danny Manning emerged when he was sued for wrongful termination by Elgin Baylor. A jury rejected Baylor’s contention in 2011. Wojnarowski writes that it’s time for owners to act.

In the middle of a playoff series, in a championship chase, star players are supposed to make a stand on a degenerate owner? Get lost with that nonsense. This is letting the NBA off too easy, letting it stay silent and inactive when that’s what it’s mostly been for decades on Sterling.

As president of the union, Chris Paul’s message should be simple: This is the owners’ and commissioner’s mess, and they need to deal with it.

There are a handful of glamour markets in the NBA, and the owners have let Sterling control a part of one for years and years. No players and coaches have ever boycotted the Clippers because they knew he was a slumlord and a racist, and never will.

For all chances Stern had to make a move on Sterling, it never happened because the NBA’s owners never push Stern to do it. These owners were willing to live with Sterling, willing to be embarrassed by him.

As the NBA official said, “Being an owner comes with an obligation to your business partners that extends beyond just a fiduciary responsibility.”

Whatever Chris Paul and Doc Rivers want to do here, that’s on them. They don’t have a responsibility here, because it belongs to someone else. The NBA has long insisted it stands for something bigger than basketball, that its sports’ most progressive league, and Donald Sterling has always been the counter to that case. The league had hoped this sick, miserable old man would fade away, only he rose to humiliate them again. The National Basketball Association deserves Donald Sterling now, deserves him more than ever. Once and for all, deal with him.

Baron Davis, who formerly played for Sterling, was hardly surprised Saturday and praised the players.

Against that backdrop, there’s a game Sunday. “We are a black league,” Charles Barkley said during an TNT panel discussion and Shaquille O’Neal said that the players had an obligation to play. “You still have to go out and do your job.”

Barkley agreed, but added: “This is the first test for [Commissioner] Adam Silver. He’s got to suspend this guy because, like I say, this is habitual. He’s already had the lawsuit for discrimination that he settled, so clearly he was doing something wrong. … He has to suspend this guy.”

 

More on Sterling and the Clippers:

 

Clippers owner Donald Sterling says he doesn’t want his girlfriend to bring black people to games

 Magic Johnson says he’ll never attend a Clippers game again

Why the NBA isn’t doing anything about Sterling — yet

LeBron: ‘No room” for Sterling in NBA if comments are true

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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