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We should thank Clippers owner Donald Sterling

By From page A11 | May 24, 2014

Just when you thought Donald Sterling had said enough to get himself into enough excrement to fill the 18,000-seat Staples Center, to my amazement, he kept talking.

It seems that every time he speaks is like watching a scene from the film “12 Years A Slave.” Like most people of color who have publicly voiced their opinions on this annoying sideshow, I am not surprised to hear such bold, arrogant bigotry. Most African-Americans who have lived beyond the 1980s have experienced some level of racial, cultural or generational prejudice – either directly or indirectly.

How would the athletes of a former generation handle the situation of a team owner making racist comments?

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali faced serious jail time when he took a stand against participating in the Vietnam War. His protest and action cost him his title and millions of dollars. Jim Brown was at the top of his game and career when he walked away from the game, partly over being mistreated and disrespected by Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell. Tommie Smith and John Carlos protested the treatment of African-Americans by raising blacked-gloved clenched fists during the 1968 Olympics. Their actions resulted in them being sent home from Mexico City.

Are there any athletes of today’s generation who will take a significant stand? More than 70 percent of all NBA players are African-Americans. The athletes mentioned above acted alone, which demonstrated even more courage. Do today’s sports figures have the courage to take action, or do huge contracts and million-dollar endorsements transcend racial injustice?

If NBA commissioner Adam Silver had not issued the maximum penalty for Sterling and wasn’t aggressively pursuing having him removed as an NBA owner, would the majority of the high-profile NBA players have done more than turn their shirts inside out in protest? I seriously doubt it.

Why haven’t we heard much from basketball icon and one of the few African-American NBA team owners Michael Jordan on this issue? Is it really a lack of courage or a lack of consciousness that keeps the modern superstar professional athlete quiet and on the sideline when it comes to taking social or political actions?

Sterling’s verbal assault of Magic Johnson is ironic, due to the fact that Magic (along with Larry Bird) is arguably the player who saved the NBA, helping to making it the global multibillion-dollar product that it is today. Prior to the Magic Johnson Showtime Lakers and the classic Lakers vs. Celtics, Bird vs. Magic rivalry, the NBA was struggling with low attendance and very few TV contracts. Sterling would not be reaping the benefits and the wealth of owning an NBA team in Los Angeles without the magic of Ervin Johnson.

Just a thought: As negative as his comments were, they also resulted in some positive outcomes. I would actually like to thank Donald Sterling for five reasons:

  • For helping the majority of Americans who were in denial realize that just because we have an African-American president does not mean that racism doesn’t still exist.
  • For exposing the fact that there is still a need for affirmative action and civil rights organizations.
  • For helping to expose the corruption in the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP.
  • For giving young men a reason to talk about something other than basketball and video games.
  • For exposing how gutless the modern professional athlete is when it comes to taking a stand for social justice.

So thanks, Donald. . . . Please keep talking.

Deon D. Price is an author and youth life skills coach who lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him at www.twitter.com/youthgeneration.

Deon Price


Discussion | 48 comments

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  • 2waystreetMay 24, 2014 - 1:41 am

    I guess african american rap artists who make millions of dollars and refer to white people by various derogotary nameds aren't racist? Its good that the conversation is taking place, but you can't play the victim role anymore while entertainers like katt williams and various recording artists use racial slurs and sell it to the american public.

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  • Skeptic ScroogeMay 24, 2014 - 3:29 am

    I think YOU are racist for expecting black Michael Jordan team owner to take a stand against sterlings comments. Plenty of WHITE team owners spoke out, not good enough for you because of their skin color? Sounds like the bigpot calling the kettle black.

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  • archieMay 24, 2014 - 6:02 am

    Excellent article Deon

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  • JBMay 24, 2014 - 6:23 am

    I bet the Clippers players still collected their pay checks. When Jesse Jackson called New York Himeytown that is ok too. Why don' t you do an article about Jesse and Al's racist rants Deon. Address the problem for what it is all races do it not just whites.

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 6:59 am

    A little defensive on the comments, aren't we?

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  • Rhee MedboyMay 24, 2014 - 7:20 am

    Only to the point that the media doesn't adequately and equally cover the full spectrum of what is said--i.e. it's ok for a black, Hispanic, or oriental person to say anti-white statements, but let a white guy say something about their race? You never hear the end of it.

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  • The SugarJarMay 24, 2014 - 7:47 am

    Asian. People are Asian. Things can be oriental.

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 24, 2014 - 7:23 am

    Yeah, and most are completely missing Deon's point. I'm just not sure I understand why Deon believe's Michael Jordon has some sort of obligation to make a statement on this issue. My biggest concern in all of this is whether the NBA has the legal where-with-all to force Sterling to divest property based on a private, obviously entrapping, conversation. As repugnant as his comments were, it's a slippery slope to force him to sell the team,

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 7:53 am

    Mr.P: We can only assume that Silver, after consulting with others in the NBA, concluded that anything short of going nuclear against Sterling wouldn't do. Slippery slopes created elsewhere are not the NBA's concern.

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 24, 2014 - 7:56 am

    I agree. Contractually, they can force the sale. Legally, I'm not so sure. I doubt Sterling will do it, but I would like to see it challenged in the courts.

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  • mike kirchubelMay 24, 2014 - 9:04 am

    Obviously, i am not reporting a rude comment. I was just scrolling down.

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 24, 2014 - 9:59 am

    Mike, that's what they all say. Go Giants! Dodgers suck.

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  • CD BrooksMay 24, 2014 - 10:17 am

    Mr. Practical, my friend. Why would you go and say that? It's way too early to get excited...

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 24, 2014 - 12:08 pm

    CD, you gotta take what you can get when you can get it! It's not a statement of how the Dodgers are playing. It's about who they are. That being said, I have nothing against Dodgers fans. Most are good people. They're just a bit misdirected.

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  • CD BrooksMay 24, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    Mr. Practical, I am laughing, because I cannot disagree with you! Say hi hope all is well! :)

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 24, 2014 - 12:29 pm

    CD, I still think it's going to be a Giants/Dodgers division race. I don't think that the Rockies can hang. Not enough pitching. One thing that confuses me with the Dodgers is they are 7 games over .500 on the road and 4 games under at home.

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  • CD BrooksMay 24, 2014 - 12:41 pm

    Mr. Practical, I agree it will likely come down to LA and SF barring any major injuries. As far as confusion goes, all I can say the Dodgers have confused me all my life. Timely hitting and errors are killing them. You have to score to win and hold late leads. So far the Giants have proven to be much better at that.

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  • The SugarJarMay 24, 2014 - 7:56 am

    Appreciating your perspective, Mr. Price. I hear/read too much of the "but what about" perspective that tends to derail the conversation. In some spaces attempting intersectional understanding, the term "check your privilege" is directed to those seemingly unaware commentors. Here, well, I'm happy you are writing.

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 8:02 am

    Consider the context in America: For 250 years, whites legally held blacks as slaves, followed by 100 years of overt and virulent forms of white on black racism, followed by a period where we are today, with overt and virulent racism waning but within memory, while lesser forms of racism remain. Consider that, and then look up "false equivalency" as a logical fallacy. Then reread for the point of Deon's column.

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  • John AndersonMay 24, 2014 - 8:16 am

    Deon sings the old saw here. What is REALLY wrong with the Sterling affair is that his PRIVATE personal comments were secretly recorded and made public. This is no different than private citizens in Nazi Germany telling the SS that they overheard a conversation that was critical of the Fuhrer...resulting in jail or death for the person who PRIVATELY uttered their personal opinion. Public statement- YES, stone him. Private? Never! What ever happened to "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it". AND- as to the "Black" things mentioned here: Blacks need to get over the blame game and get with the program....NOW. No more excuses. They've had 50 years of advantage programs to make things right. Yet look at them as a group. The statistics don't lie, cannot be "PC" skewed. People are sick of listening to this. and besides, Hispanics and Asians are rising in power and will soon be the majority in the USA. They had nothing to do with slavery (nor have any living white people, BTW)...indeed they suffered, too. Who will blacks blame THEN? Will the new Hispanic and Asian leaders be as generous as the white ones have been for the past 50 years?

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  • 2realMay 24, 2014 - 8:22 am

    Africans sold their own people. They were slaves before coming to america. Its a freedom of speech.... unless your white.

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 24, 2014 - 8:24 am

    2real, unless government is trying to censor your comments it's not a freedom of speech issue,

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 12:46 pm

    Get real, 2r. You're going to blame Africans for black slavery in America? There is no slave trade without a market. And after the slave trade ended, it persisted within the United States for nearly 50 years. You are an apologist without equal. But I may be wrong. Anyone else with 2real?

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  • Salty DogMay 24, 2014 - 5:14 pm

    RLW: For your information slave trade is still going on in northern Africa, and i have not seen slave trade in the United States in well over 100 years, That is unless living on the government plantation and being a slave to the welfare state that the liberal Democrats. I think you need to stop watching your CNN and MSNBC.

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  • CD BrooksMay 24, 2014 - 5:39 pm

    Salty Dog, regarding guns...I’ve been calling you out for days and you chose to hide because you have no defense. You DO NOT have any valid information to substantiate your ridiculous FOX/GOP/ jabberwocky muck. You have been exposed just like all the others trying to come in here empty-handed. Do you call human-trafficking slavery? You think that isn't happening here? Grow up Dog, you're way below the curve. Take heart everyone even though the indoctrination process really took hold, there is still hope. Step over to the left, they will choose the worthy few among you. Those lucky enough to make the grade will be rewarded with happiness and clarity of thought. Good luck.

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 10:21 pm

    SD: Yes, I should have said the international slave trade that fueled black slavery in the United States for a couple of centuries. That did end in the early 19th century. The slave trade inside the US did not until after the Civil War. We are all aware that slavery and the slave trade is still a problem today in the world.

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  • CD BrooksMay 24, 2014 - 1:51 pm

    2real, so you ARE racist too! How does that sit with dude?

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  • PornacMay 24, 2014 - 9:25 am

    Folks will be folks and judge others, just keep it calm please. Going back to my bridge.

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  • jMay 24, 2014 - 10:57 am

    Glad I'm Hispanic. You guys go ahead and keep on arguing about the same stuff while my race takes OUR country back. SMH #don'tseethebiggerpicture

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 1:00 pm

    Can't we all just get along, so we can go to war with the Chinese for the next century or so? THEY are all pulling together, whether they like it or not. We have to do it voluntarily. It will be a test of which system works best. How's the Hispanic guy about that?

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  • jMay 24, 2014 - 2:27 pm

    @rlw-Glad to see that someone out there has their thinking cap on. You are absolutely correct. Asia is manufacturing everything it can get its hands on while us americans ship away more and more jobs everyday. Now wonder everything is so expensive, we don't make it anymore so the only thing left to do is sell it to ourselves-at a premium.

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 2:30 pm

    j: So can you set aside the objective of taking "your" country back and join us in this new battle?

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  • John AndersonMay 24, 2014 - 6:31 pm

    And Hispanics (or Asians), once they are in control, will have no "white guilt" baggage. I'll bet that black/non-black racial relations will really get interesting! But really, it matters not to me, I'll probably be dead by then.

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  • JagMay 24, 2014 - 11:19 am

    History will show Obama has done more to hurt the black population then help (just watch)

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 12:57 pm

    Care to elaborate on that?

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  • CD BrooksMay 24, 2014 - 1:38 pm

    Jag, that is total BS! if anybody has done harm to African Americans it is the Republican Party. The ONLY people that the Republicans don't harass is white, heterose*ual religious men, period. Try to argue your way out of that! History will be kind to Obama, trust me.

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  • Skeptic ScroogeMay 24, 2014 - 4:25 pm

    Fact: Abraham Lincoln = republican So yeah, republicans harmed blacks cuz they freed them from slavery! And slavery in America didnt last 250 years, try less than 100, but guess what? Africans are still slaves in Africa!!! Blacks taking other blacks ad slaves, how's that for being a bigot! Now some republican is gonna go Lincoln style and free those slave girls, watch it be Donald Sterling himself! He will regret it for the next 250 years, no good deed goes unpunished. Republicans fought to free blacks from slavery, AND to grant them voting rights, do they show gratitude? Get over yourself.

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  • CD BrooksMay 24, 2014 - 4:41 pm

    Skeptic Scrooge, you cannot be serious?! Step up to the 21st century and wake the hell up! I am speaking to todays pathetic freak show AKA the GOP, believe it, read it, find out for yourself! It was 1963 before Kennedy (a Democrat) brought the Civil Rights Act nearly 100 years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Guess who held it up?! After his death, President Johnson (another Democrat) signed the bill in 1964. Way too late but it finally got done.

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 10:29 pm

    SS: Are you splitting hairs about the difference between the Unites States and America? The slave trade in the colonies existed from the early 1600s. It didn't end until 1865. The importation of slaves from Africa ended in the early 1800s. After that, the slave trade using slaves bred in the United States continued. The continued existence of slavery in the world elsewhere is irrelevant to the discussion.

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    History will show Obama had to face a racial backlash that the Republicans exploited instead of distancing themselves from. It's so transparent history can't miss it. In the meantime, the Country lost an opportunity in the post-Bush era to reestablish itself as not only the world's last superpower, but also the world's moral and cultural leader. It's part of the penance evidently we still have to pay for black slavery and racial discrimination. Obama will go down as a transformational president who helped us pay that penance with equanimity. We are on the right track, but it's going to take more time. He will be compared favorably to people like Jackie Robinson.

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  • John AndersonMay 24, 2014 - 6:35 pm

    I'd wager that Obama will be the last President of at least partial African blood to be POTUSA for many decades to come. MANY! I see a Hispanic coming to the White House in the next decade or so. But probably an Anglo female first.

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 10:36 pm

    JA: I'll take that bet. Yes to the Anglo female relatively soon, no to the Hispanic president within 10 years, and no to Obama being the last black president for decades. What about a president of Asian descent? I'm a no on that for the next 10 years at least.

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  • John AndersonMay 24, 2014 - 3:21 pm

    Thank You for not posting my previous comment. I'll not try again, either.

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  • Deon PMay 24, 2014 - 7:42 pm

    Readers, Very intriguing and amusing comments to this discussion. I will respond to the those thought provoking comments worthy of a response. Some are so ridiculous, they speak with a volume of ignorance so loud that there's no need for a response. I appreciate your response and the enlightening discussion.

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  • rlw895May 24, 2014 - 10:58 pm

    Thank you for a thought-provoking column, Deon. These postings have great value in bringing to light important issues. I appreciate people who don't hide in the shadows. They bring their thoughts to the table for some critical evaluation. That's a good thing.

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  • Mr. SmithMay 25, 2014 - 9:56 am

    Mr. Price correctly points out that some of the comments on this thread are not worthy of response, and therefore he will not address them. I'm just wondering if some of those high-profile Black athletes and team owners who dissappointed Mr. Price by remaining silent were not invoking the same privelege? Mr. Sterling appears to be nothing more than a senile, perhaps demented, octogenarian who inadvertantly found himself in the glare of national attention and couldn't deal with it. His pathetic racist commentary is to be pitied and reviled, but I don't think it is of major importance in the grand scheme of things. Just an unfortunate opportunity for some folks to beat the drums of racial tension. Consider the source, folks. Sterling is getting what he deserves. Time to move on.

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  • Deon PMay 25, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    This is a general response to those who commented in defense of high profiled figures such as Michael Jordan. The reason Michael is so significant is because of his influence and status that would definitely have an impact. Many before him such as the before mentioned Magic Johnson, have used their celebrity to help improve the advancement of an oppressed or disadvantaged population. I openly called the non-action of Michael Jordan a cowardly act in the same since that if some one witnesses a bully mistreating someone but refuse to do or say something because they fear retaliation or fear losing their status, is a coward. Period. The fact that he is also an owner who happens to be African American, almost makes him somewhat responsible to get involved because his vote or voice matters a great deal as to whether Sterling remains an owner in the league. The reason this entire subject is still relevant and is not easy to just "Move on" as some suggests, is because this is much bigger than the NBA or an old outta touch bigot. It exposes a spirit of hate and racism that so many still believe doesn't exist. As the column mentioned this is why we still need a system in place against bigots and racist....still think AFIRMATIVE ACTION should be dismantled???

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  • Mr. PracticalMay 25, 2014 - 12:37 pm

    Deon, are you saying that Jordon is irresponsible because he doesn't want to handle the situation to fit your agenda? Have you spoken to him to find out why he chose not to respond? Sterling is ignorant and repugnant. Nearly everyone agrees with that. What should be done going forward is a matter of personal opinion. We should be well past affirmative action. Is the world perfect? No. Is it better? Absolutely. Personally, I believe the whole Sterling discussion is much ado about nothing. Racism is deteriorating incrementally by generation. As his generation disappears, a big part of racism disappears with it. Things will be much better as the Baby Boomers die off. There will always be some racism. Nothing you or I can do about that. Unless we can make everyone look, talk and act the same.

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