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Donald Sterling: The Victim? Why the Donald Sterling Reaction is an Overreaction

I believe that Donald Sterling is actually one of the victims in this entire scandal. I will explain why below but first, let me share some background information on the whole situation.

The Situation:

As everyone active in the sports world or the internet has heard, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, well known to be a racist, was recorded saying quite a few bad words about African Americans.

(I strongly suggest listening to the whole of both videos)

A few quotes stand out in these tapes.

(Quotes transcribed from TMZ)

GF: “I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.” 

Sterling: “Well then, if you don’t feel — don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.”

GF: “Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?”

Sterling: “You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? 

Another quote that got people’s attention – also transcribed via TMZ.

— “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30) 

— “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.” (5:15)

— “I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.” (7:45)

— “…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me.  And don’t bring him to my games.” (9:13)

Donald Sterling tried to justify his stance on the matter with this ( at 1:19)

“…People feel certain things. Hispanics feel certain things towards blacks. Blacks feel certain things towards other (pause..) groups. It’s been that way historically, and it will always be that way.”

The Man:

photo via
photo via

Sterling has had countless encounters with racism in his days as the Clippers owner.

According to an ESPN report, The billionaire, whose net worth is put at $1.9 billion by Forbes, was sued by former Clippers GM Elgin Baylor for wanting a team of “poor black boys from the South playing for a white coach.”

Also according to the same report, one of Donald Sterling’s main property supervisor Sumner Davenport, said Sterling only wanted tenants that “fit his image”. Also according to Davenport, that image Sterling speaks of no blacks, no Mexican-Americans, no children, and no government-housing-subsidy recipients as tenants. After endless incidents of broken appliances, prejudicial repairs, and false reports of non-payment, the owner was finally sued. The case was settled for a thought-to-be record $4.9 million.


According to a L.A. Times report in 2009, Sterling settled allegations of discriminatory housing for a ridiculous price of $2.725 million. These allegations included not renting/selling to African-Americans or people with children. $2.625 million was paid to those affected by his discrimination, and $100,000 was paid to the U.S government in fees.


All these examples of Sterling’s racism have only come into mass scrutiny now, but they have been here all along.

The Reaction:

Everyone who is anyone in the NBA world has commented on Sterling’s actions and Silver’s punishment.

The main topic of conversation, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, also commented on the audio tape. Of course, he supported punishment for the Clippers owner.

The TNT halftime crew, usually known for their jokes and gags, got serious on the topic.

via LA times
via LA times

And once Adam Silver released his punishment ruling of a fine of $2.5 Million, a lifetime ban from the NBA, and a force sale of the Los Angeles Clippers organization, the internet was plastered with agreements.





Stephen Jackson even released a rap song bashing Donald Sterling –


And while the support keeps pouring in, there are others who do not agree with the punishment or the whole way that this has been handled.


Kareem Abdul Jabbar has an interesting outlook on the topic:

photo via LA times
photo via LA times

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Welcome to the Finger-Wagging Olympics

So does NBC sport’s writer Dan Feldman:

Why Donald Sterling is a victim


photo via
photo via

Why would this racist man ever be the victim in this situation?

The answer is simple, really.

Donald Sterling was recorded in his own home, illegally, saying these remarks. According to Digital Media Law project (, recording conversations in California require both parties to have consented to recording and release.
Do you think Mr. Sterling consented to this release?

Absolutely not.

Therefore, Donald Sterling is being fined $2.5 million for speaking freely in his own home.

The first amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights allows us to speak freely and without punishment.

I would say fining anybody $2.5 million for speaking is a violation of that right. Sterling was recorded unknowingly and unwillingly, and for that he is losing his team and his freedom to attend NBA events.

I myself am not a racist. I despise racism and think it has no place in the NBA or the world. But I also support freedom of speech and, as part of that, I disagree with Sterling’s punishment. I am 100% sure that if every single person was recorded in their own home the person listening to that recording would be a bit shocked, disturbed, or offended at something they say. We all make jokes, ignorant remarks, or say things that are just not socially acceptable. But, in the comfort of our own home, I believe it is our right to say those things, however much people do not agree with them.

So why is the NBA allowed to fine Sterling an absurd amount of money for utilizing the first amendment?

I doubt anyone reading this has $2.5 million waiting in the bank ready to be stolen from them. But, since Sterling is worth $1.9 billion, $2.5 million is just pocket money for the NBA owner.

So okay, lets move past the money factor and onto the next aspect of punishment.

The force sale of the team by owner Donald Sterling.

Personally, this outrages me. And while this is not guaranteed to happen (it is pending on a NBA owners vote), it still is very possible. Sterling is facing losing his entire sports empire because his girlfriend illegally recorded him saying a few racist remarks. How could just a few statements made by this Clippers kingpin lead to his demise and force sale of his main asset?

What about all the other racist actions he has been well documented to have done?

Why is this incident worth the end of Sterling’s stay in the NBA when he has been sued for discrimination and simply thrown money at them to end the allegations?

I believe that the people of the NBA and the fans across the world have jumped on this opportunity to show that they are not racist. It has nothing to do with what Sterling actually did but all about how it is perceived. Bomani Jones worded it perfectly:

“Because this is the only opportunity that a lot of people out here will have that they feel comfortable in their souls and within their psyches to stand against racism because it’s so easy to do it on this right here… “

Jones says it how it is. How many people are going to stand up to racism when nobody else does?

How many people stood up to it when Sterling settled with record payments to get people off his back when he was accused of discriminatory housing?

No one made enough noise. It barely got attention.

Neither did Larry Johnson’s equally racist tweet about creating a new all African American league.

So now, when everyone catches the anti-racism cold because everyone else is doing it, Sterling is losing all he has.

I agree with the lifetime ban from the NBA and all its events as part of the punishment for Donald Sterling. It is the same as basically firing an employee for being racist to a customer. It makes complete sense.

But stripping the employee of their house, car, and all the money in their bank would be pushing it a bit too far and pushing legal boundaries.

Thats the comparison I see with what is going on with Sterling. I completely agree he should be punished, but his punishment should not extend beyond anything having to do with the NBA and it’s image. You can not strip a man of his team because of something he said.

That is why Donald Sterling is a victim here. He is a victim of the mob mentality shown by everyone bashing him as a terrible person and a racist beast. Sterling is a victim of the NBA and it’s fans catching it’s snap and finally doing something about racism in the NBA. While his statements deserve to be condemned and his personality should definitely be judged by this incident as well as the others mentioned, Sterling does not deserve this punishment and is a victim of a community overreacting for the sake of looking not racist.



The views expressed in this article are my own and not meant to offend anyone. I believe there is a better way of serving justice to Clippers owner Donald Sterling and used this template to express my disagreement. If there is any reaction to this article, please leave it in the comments and I will absolutely respond.





20 thoughts on “Donald Sterling: The Victim? Why the Donald Sterling Reaction is an Overreaction Leave a comment

  1. Fascinating viewpoint! Will the girlfriend be punished for violating the law? Or is she considered a whistleblower? Sterling is definitely scum of the earth but if he thought he was speaking in public i am sure he would have filtered his opinion.


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