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The Mess That Is Donald Sterling and the Clippers

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

The best basketball of the season is being upstaged by an ugly controversy around the Clippers owner.

The Mess That Is Donald Sterling and the Clippers

There are so many other things that we should be talking about in regards to the NBA. The Playoffs have gotten off to an incredibly competitive start. LeBron and the Miami Heat just swept the Charlotte Bobcats. Legendary coach Dr. Jack Ramsay passed away yesterday. But unfortunately, something has to be said about Donald Sterling's alleged comments from over the weekend.

A tape of Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was leaked to TMZ on Saturday. The audio is a recording of an argument between Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, for bringing African-Americans to Clippers games and for posting pictures of herself with African-Americans, including Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson, on Instagram. The recording is over nine minutes long, and it also needs to be noted that it has not been confirmed whether or not Sterling is the one in the tape making those racist comments. Right now everything is just alleged, but the reaction and the outrage has been swift already

Take a listen below to the tape and listen to everything that was said:

The NBA is currently investigating the legitimacy of the tape, as are the Clippers. The public reaction has been pretty clear: there's no place for a person that makes those kinds of statements or has those kinds of attitudes/feelings in the league. Clippers players like Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan already made statements. Clippers players held a silent protest before yesterday's game, taking off their warmup jackets, tossing them to the floor, and turning their shirts inside-out along with black socks and black wristbands. Coaches and former players have spoken out. Magic Johnson said he will never attend a Clippers game again, though it's being reported by Yahoo! Sports that Johnson would be interested in buying the team if Sterling is forced to sell. Michael Jordan released a strongly-worded statement giving his viewpoints as an owner and a former player. Advertisers are already backing away from the Clippers in light of the news. 

New commissioner Adam Silver said that he will discuss the allegations and the investigation on Tuesday at a press conference, but there is already a lot of pressure on him to take strong action. With or without the tape, it's been clear for a while that Sterling doesn't belong in the league. He has a long track record of character issues, including discrimination lawsuits brought on by tenants of his buildings and by former employers, including former NBA legend Elgin Baylor.

The situation is more delicate for Silver and for the players who held their protest. Silver is setting a precedent with any kind of decision he hands out. Michael McCann laid out all of the options for Sports Illustrated, and it is indeed a very interesting predicament. There hasn't been nearly enough time to have a full investigation, and even if the tape is validated, does Silver have the right to remove Sterling as the owner? Silver isn't likely going to remove Silver from his post, even if many owners say they are for it. 

It is clear that Silver has to come out today and note that progress has been made and they are moving forward with some kind of preliminary punishment. A fine is too light for someone as wealthy as Sterling. A suspension seems more in line for the time being. That will give the league time to carry out an investigation so that they can give it the weight it deserves. There are still several things to consider, like the fact that Stiviano is currently being sued by Sterling's wife and the idea that he was set up (because it's clear in the audio that this was a set up). It certainly seems like Sterling is guilty here, but no one, especially Silver, can rush to judgment.

The whole mess certainly puts the Clippers, their opponent, the Golden State Warriors, coach Doc Rivers, the fans, and the league in general. An incredibly important Game 5 between these two teams at the Staples Center tonight, but all of this madness will be hanging over the proceedings. It's an unenviable situation, and hopefully Silver will inform us today that this is moving forward and we can be done with it. If Sterling has any dignity, he would remove himself from everything, but that's not going to happen.

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