NEW YORK, NY – You know what? I hate the idea of sloppy seconds. Always have. This whole Donald Sterling affair presents a problem though. There are still some remaining delicious scraps left from which to pick, but at the same time, my colleague West Coast Craig did an outstanding job of covering this jackass in his column yesterday.
Sterling is a racist old white guy. Yawn. We haven’t seen many of those in our lifetime, huh? Al Campanis was ahead of his time with his comments about African Americans lacking the “necessities” to be successful Managers and General Managers in Baseball more than 25 years ago. Jimmy the Greek spoke of breeding habits that led to superior physical developments among non-whites. The World of Sports has always brought us brilliant analysis and explanation for things that old white guys couldn’t easily reconcile.
It is amazing, though, that even Sterling’s detestable and repugnant comments were not enough to spark some sort of reaction from the group of remaining 28 white rich guys who own the other NBA franchises. This naturally begs the question: What the hell would have to happen to get some of these guys to offer up even a shred of protest? An iota of outrage? A hint of repudiation? Is there more to this than we know? Like the Skull & Bones Society at Yale, is there some clandestine “club” into which wealthy white guys are automatically inducted upon purchasing a sports team? How did this “code” so quickly fall into place almost simultaneously with Sterling’s words being uttered. Are these “ground rules” practiced and established once rich white guys predictably put their golden feet in their mouths? “Hey…did you hear? Sterling screwed up…code blue-take it to defcon 4.”
We’ve seen this kind of complicity among the super wealthy before. Fred Wilpon conspires with Bernie Madoff to swindle $60 Billion dollars from charities and widows. Charitable organizations that feed children, house the homeless are destroyed and shuttered forever. Not a peep from any of Wilpon’s fellow owner buddies. Not even on a personal level, none of these MLB owners were repulsed or angered to even comment about this?
The Detroit Lions in the 1990s decide to hire a guy named Bobby Ross to be their Head Coach. The only problem was that Ross was actually an infant. Look at his photo and you’ll see the face of an infant on a man’s body, but not one word of resistance from anyone with the NFL.
But what we’re left with is a Sterling/Silver showdown. At 2:00 this afternoon, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver will announce whether his basketballs have dropped, and what the league’s “investigation” has uncovered from the Sterling recording. While we’re not even certain that a formal “punishment” will be announced today, it is hard to imagine that something other than a substantial fine, and maybe a forfeiture of draft picks will be meted out. My sense is that the NBA will “pass” on this opportunity to do something truly inspiring and momentous. The league has in fact been given an opportunity to come out of this mess and make an indelible change to a sporting landscape whose idea of radical change consists of allowing female members into Augusta. The first openly gay player in team sports history came out in the NBA this season. That was a tremendous step forward, but a rich white team-owner publicly condemning a fellow rich white team-owner appears to still be “off the table” at this time. Sterling will be fined maybe more than $10M dollars and perhaps lose the team’s first round draft pick this year and/or next. Maybe even payroll “cap space” gets limited as a punitive measure.
My gut tells me that 2014 Major Team sports will continue with business as usual, where rich guys look out for other rich guys. Each of them knows that the next slip up could be his, and he’ll want and need the slimy backs of his fellow rich white guys then. I, like Eddie Murphy before me, will soon learn that when white people are alone, they give each other things!….
Come back tomorrow for a white guy rich in angst, Angry Ward.