Column: The fallout of shamed Donald Sterling and what happens now

The story and accompanied audio footage of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his half-African-American, half-Mexican girlfriend that he doesn’t want black people at his games has been all over the news for a full 24 hours now.

It took around 12 hours for NBA players and personalities to voice their opinion on the matter, but the messages sent by them on social media platforms Twitter and Instagram were powerful. The NBA Communications department announced via its Twitter feed that the matter is under investigation and will be dealt with.

For NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, he is presented with his first serious task since taking charge of the league in February. What will Silver do? How will he react to this? Rest assured, his final decision will reflect on his position as Commissioner of the biggest basketball league in the world. Even at this very early stage of his tenure.

Silver has stated that the investigation and decision will be quick and Sterling will know his fate sooner rather than later.

So just in case you have not been checking your phones, watching the television or browsing the internet – yesterday morning – TMZ obtained an audio-tape that dated back to April 9 of this year that had a phone conversation with Sterling and his girlfriend V. Stiviano. In that nine-minute call, the Clippers owner talks down to his girlfriend, and then asks why she has to make her friendships with black people public?

Sterling then asks Stiviano, who is of mixed race herself why she has publicly posted a picture on her Instagram of herself with former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson? [The picture has since been taken down] Sterling then had no hesitation in saying he didn’t want Johnson or black people at any of the Los Angeles Clippers games.

Reaction

The fallout from this upsetting piece of audio is overwhelming. And the comments have been powerful. Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan chose to take a picture of his feelings on Instagram, and as the old saying goes: One picture is worth a thousand words.

National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul, who plays for the Clippers released a statement on behalf of the players union:

“On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively. We have asked Mayor Kevin Johnson to expand his responsibilities with the NBPA, to determine our response and our next steps. As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and the drive to the Finals.”

Sacramento Mayor and NBPA advisor Kevin Johnson, himself a former NBA player released a follow-up statement to Paul’s:

“The reported comments made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling are reprehensible and unacceptable. The National Basketball Players Association must and will play a very active role in determining how this issue is addressed. There needs to be an immediate investigation and if the reports are true, there needs to be strong and swift action taken. I have spoken with NBPA President Chris Paul and will be leading the NBPA in addressing the implications of this serious matter. I will be formally reaching out to the NBA today to determine our next steps. While I originally came on to lead the Executive Director search, this issue requires immediate attention from the players association. I will be keeping Chris Paul, the Executive Committee, and all player representatives informed of every step.”

Basketball writer Scoop Jackson, one of the most infamous writers to mix basketball and black culture together has weighed in on the Sterling issue on ESPN, highlighting that racism in sports is still strong, no matter how much we are trying to stop it.

Twitter has been busy too with a number of NBA personalities voicing their strong opinions on Sterling. And if you are one of our followers on TalkBasket, you will have seen our feed retweeting a lot of comments made about Sterling.

Here are just a few of them…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the final word goes to the man who was unfortunately caught in the middle of all this, Magic himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What now?

Commissioner Silver has stated that Sterling will not attend Game 4 in Golden State tomorrow night and while that is the first wise move made by Sterling in 24 hours, you have got to wonder what will happen if the Warriors beat the Clippers? The fifth game will be in Los Angeles and with his comments now in the spotlight, how will the fans react to this? Will they show loyalty towards the players, or will they simply boycott the Clippers? We hope it’s the former as the players, no matter how irate they are at this, have no personal involvement in this and are merely representing the Clippers as players.

But how will the Clippers players themselves react? 86 percent of the roster is African-American; the head coach Doc Rivers is African-American. So what will be the fallout when the Clippers face the Warriors on Sunday evening [CET]? The players and Rivers have said that the focus is on the game and they will focus all their attention on Golden State and not Sterling’s comments.

Now while it’s hard not to think about this, especially with Chris Paul’s added responsibility as NBPA President, the Clippers will be focused on the task at hand against the Warriors, where the Clips hold a 2-1 series lead, perhaps even more so now that the focus will be on them. They will be united. A team with added heart and more desire to play for each other, and their coach. They will want this win worse than ever now. This game is more than just a Game 4, it’s a game where if they win – maybe, just maybe a little of the attention will be back on the Clippers’ performance – and how they are a game away from the next round of the NBA Playoffs.

But if they lose at Golden State, the attention will not only continue to be on Sterling, but the focus of the players and the reality that Game 6 will be happening. And with it being in LA, what will happen? Will Sterling be there? Will the fans be there? Will the NBA have resolved the situation by then? Will it ever be resolved?

The questions will remain unanswered until SAS [Sterling and Silver] speak.