I guess maybe we've come to a place nearly six years later where we're having that conversation about race, whether or not we want to.
After the tape alleged to be of Clippers owner Donald Sterling surfaced, just about everyone on the planet stepped up to either minimize it or condemn it, including President Obama and LeBron James. (They both condemned it.)
Rich Lowry was twisting hard for the minimizers on Meet the Press. I don't know if what he said was intended to be some kind of facetious snark or not, but here it is, fresh from the transcript:
But when you're an owner of an NBA team and you're denounced by the president of the United States and Lebron James? You know, I don't know which of those is more important.
Does he realize how incredibly disrespectful that is, not only to the President, but to black people? Sure, Lebron James wields weight within the NBA, but there's no comparison with the President's, nor should there be.
Donald Sterling has a history, inside and outside of the NBA. The Nation, regarding how he treats players:
You might be tempted to think that playing for Sterling would at least be interesting. The man is a character, not a suit. But he is also a notoriously cheap and verbally abusive bigot. Sterling stormed into the team’s locker room in February 2009 and unleashed what was described as a “profanity-laced tirade” at his players, calling young player Al Thornton “the most selfish basketball player I’ve ever seen.” When Thornton looked beseechingly to his coach Mike Dunleavy, Sterling told Dunleavy to “shut up.” He also, according to his former GM Elgin Baylor, “would bring women into the locker room after games, while the players were showering, and make comments such as, ‘Look at those beautiful black bodies.’ I brought [player complaints] to Sterling’s attention, but he continued to bring women into the locker room.”
Clipperland is a place where any player with potential is either not re-signed or desperately tries to leave before their potential is squandered. In 1981 they picked Tom Chambers with the number-eight pick, and then in 1982, they nabbed Terry Cummings (who won Rookie of the Year) number two overall. The two appeared in six combined All-Star Games and 228 combined playoff games of course, none with the Clippers. Both got the hell out of Dodge by the summer of ’84.
But there's more. Racists gotta hate, whether it's basketball, the girlfriend, or business:
He even has “white parties” at his Beverly Hills home where guests all wear white “like in the book.” He’s a Gatsbian who never read The Great Gatsby. Jay Gatsby was running from his past, hiding his rough background behind the artifice of taste and wealth. Sterling presents himself as the tony developer of high-end properties in the Hollywood Hills, and plays it much closer to the street. Sterling is also the Slumlord Billionaire, a man who made his fortune by building low-income housing, and then, according to a Justice Department lawsuit, developing his own racial quota system to decide who gets the privilege of renting his properties. In November of 2009, Sterling settled the suit with the US Department of Justice for $2.73 million, the largest ever obtained by the government in a discrimination case involving apartment rentals.
When Rich Lowry wonders which voice carries more weight -- a great basketball player or the President of the United States -- he might as well just put a badge of disrespect on and join his pal Don Sterling in the penalty box. Also, after reading the details in that article, does anyone doubt that it's his voice on the tape?
Of course, David Gregory just let it fly on by...because that's what David Gregory does.