Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling started a firestorm -- actually it was his former girlfriend V. Stiviano who started it -- when she released recorded racist comments from Sterling about her association with black athletes. The NBA will decide later today whether or not to take the Clippers away from him. It’s okay to be infuriated about his remarks, but as basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar asked yesterday, in calling out all parties involved, why didn’t earlier public knowledge of racism by Sterling shock the NAACP into action?
“Yes, I’m angry too,” Jabbar said, “but not just about the sins of Donald Sterling. I’ve got a list.”
Jabbar is also angry with Stiviano saying, “We’re looking at a finger wagging Olympics….all over the latest in a long line of white celebrities to come out of the racist closet. The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn’t steal the cake but we’re all gorging on it.”
Jabbar’s comments came in an article released this week by TIME. He also said if the outrage is justified, then let’s be outraged when Sterling’s racism was first evident. He is obviously referring to the $3 million fine imposed on Sterling for denying housing to Blacks. Sterling was apparently quoted as saying that Blacks, “smelled and attract vermin.” The NAACP did nothing then and even had made plans to present Sterling with an NAACP award on May 15.
Donald Sterling made his considerable fortune in the housing industry; not just building houses but being a “slum-landlord” He became upset with V. Stiviano when she kept posting pictures of herself with black athletes and black celebrities on social media. Among the celebrities she escorted to a Clippers’ game was another NBA legend, Magic Johnson, who is a former teammate of Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
In closing, I will include another few paragraphs from Jabbar’s article in TIME. It makes a lot of sense.
“Make no mistake: Donald Sterling is the villain of this story. But he’s just a handmaiden to the bigger evil. In our quest for social justice, we shouldn’t lose sight that racism is the true enemy. He’s just another jerk with more money than brains.
So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on “Celebrity Apprentice” and “Dancing With The Stars.”
Let’s use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying, “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs.” Amen!
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past 45 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a 17-year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org