Vinson: Round 2 of the Sterling debate

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Generally, I don’t cover the same subject matter two weeks in a row. However, since it is such ongoing, monumentally important news, I am going to break trend. That being said, let’s ring the bell for round 2 of Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s bout with the National Basketball Association/NBA.

“It would be nothing short of a white-collar crime to force him to sell his team. To do so, in fact, would shred the once-strong fabric of the U.S. Constitution to useless pieces,” the attorney stated to me matter-of-factly, his eyeglasses resting on the bridge of his nose. “Even though his comments were racially irresponsible, I didn’t hear anything in Donald Sterling’s dialogue, recorded by his lady friend that threatened to do harm to anyone of any race . . . it’s not a crime to state a personal opinion about a particular person or a particular race—distasteful, though it might be! It’s covered by Freedom of Speech in the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

The attorney continued…“A real crime being committed here is that many of those high-profile TV anchors and legal analysts, both black and white, are playing the ‘race’ card for the sole sake of furthering their own careers, when the truth of this matter is they don’t give a hoot about race relations in America. And they’ll continue to keep the pot stirred for as long as possible, rather than making a genuine effort to solve the real problem—disgusting!”

Adding some credence to the attorney’s sentiments is a statement made to ABC News’ Barbara Walters by V. Stiviano, Sterling’s 31-year-old, foxy-lady friend: “I think Mr. Sterling is from a different generation than I am. I think he was brought up to believe those things, segregation, whites and blacks . . . but, through his actions, he’s shown that he’s not a racist.”

(NOTE: For the record, Ms. Stiviano, reportedly half black-half Hispanic, is the one who recorded Sterling making comments about Magic Johnson, and, also, about her hanging out with blacks, in general.)

However, after Stiviano’s Instagram/audio recording went totally viral, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver went totally public, banning Sterling from the NBA for life, levying a 2.5 million-dollar fine against Sterling (the maximum amount allowed by the NBA), and threatening to work with other NBA team owners in an effort to force Sterling to sell his Los Angeles Clippers basketball team.

Still, since the incident, Donald Sterling, an 80-year-old white man, has said that he has “no intention” of selling the Clippers, which he bought in 1981 for a reported 12.5 million, the Clippers now worth close to one billion.
In sync, I suppose, Carla Grieb, a noted professor of law at the John Marshal Law School in Chicago, was quoted as saying the NBA Constitution “allows expulsion of an owner only under circumstances such as gambling, fraud, or an inability to fulfill a contractual obligation to the league.”

Moving right along, several heavyweight celebrities have come up in the mix of names who might be interested in buying the L.A. Clippers, among them: Oprah Winfrey, the black, female, billionaire media mogul; and, yes, former NBA champ/MVP Earvin “Magic” Johnson, also black, the very one about whom Sterling made the racially derogatory comment.

In the name of human decency, and for the sake of the NBA, I personally, feel Donald Sterling needs to do the right thing and sell his Los Angeles Clippers, and enjoy his golden years on an extravagant yacht cruising around in exotic waters.

But the problem is that Donald Sterling didn’t morph from successful attorney to NBA team owner and billionaire entrepreneur by having a “lightweight” attitude. Love him or loathe him, Sterling rose to the heavyweight ranks by not throwing in the towel and, instead, having a “knockout” attitude.

Whether he maintains ownership of the L.A. Clippers or is forced to sell them, Donald Sterling’s fight with the NBA promises to be a heavyweight bout of “Ali-Frazier” proportions, in terms of sports-Constitutional-civil rights history

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Mike Vinson
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