Depraved Owner of the Week: Donald Sterling

By James Fegan\n\nThe Bulls season is hurtling down into a tunnel of sadness, nurse ailment so pointing out that the opposing team’s owner is a scumbag has become overkill. Yet we’d be remiss if we passed on the chance to write up the man who inspired this series. Ironically, viagra Donald Sterling might be such a notoriously unfeeling leather sack of racism and antipathy that a report on his misdeeds is akin to shooting fish in a refrigerator.\n\nName: Donald Sterling\n\nNet Worth: $1.9 billion\n\nTeam: Los Angeles Clippers\n\nForbes Team Valuation: Value $430 million; Revenue $108 million; Operating Income $9.1 million\n\nTenure: Since 1981, when he acquired the Clippers for $12.5 million. Good for him!\n\nArena: Staples Center (1999)\nTotal Capital Cost (2010): $535 Million\nPublic Capital Cost (2010): $98 Million (18%)\nSource: Judith Grant Long, Public-Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities (Routledge)\n\nCost of Game for a Family of Four (2012-13): $369.40\n\nOngoing Subsidies:\n\nThe Staples Center financing process is actually seen as a relative breath of fresh air in the unfathomably putrid world of super-rich sports franchises holding massively indebted metropolises hostages for funding they don’t need for stadiums that only serve to raise their own revenues. Los Angeles’ obligation was actually reduced from $70.5 million due to concerns about the debt repayment schedule.\n\nBetter yet, it’s a pretty efficient arrangement, since the Lakers and Kings also call the Staples Center home. Since those two teams have won championships since the place was built, the Clippers have been mostly thought of hangers-on. It’s not like Donald Sterling was driving the charge to give the city a break, and $116 million over 20 years for the naming rights eases the burden for the development company.\n\nGreat Moments Lifetimes in Cynicism:\n\nBack in simpler times, Sterling was just regarded as a cheapskate; the sole owner of a perpetual bottom-five team that’s managed multiple decade-long streaks of losing seasons in his tenure while Franz Lidz-penned articles for Sports Illustrated described his ca-razy approach to managing a sports franchise. Like how Sterling getting fined for openly suggesting his teams tank intentionally for a higher draft pick was just the more public display of an approach that included trying to slash his scouting and training budget to ribbons (they did wind up picking Michael Olowakandi first overall) and, as an NBA scorekeeper told Deadspin, intentionally depressing the value of their own players by reducing their assist totals.\n\nUnfortunately, the Clippers being good and seemingly well-run now brings forward the more troubling possibility of Donald Sterling celebrating an NBA championship or experiencing success and honor of any kind, because Donald Sterling is a vicious and dehumanizing racist.\n\nThough he started out as a humble divorce and personal injury attorney, Sterling made his fortune in real estate, which smoothly dovetailed with his passion for keeping the greater Los Angeles area as segregated as possible. As Dave Zirin detailed, in 2009, Sterling paid a $2.73 million housing discrimination suit settlement, the largest obtained by the government in a case involving apartment rentals. That was in addition to 2005 discrimination lawsuit that saw Sterling forced to pay $5 million in in plaintiff legal fees, in addition to an undisclosed actual settlement figure. For good measure, he also lost a suit in 2001 against the city of Santa Monica for generalized harassment. He’s really testy about potted plants on balconies.\n\nThe court transcripts from his 2009 case included accusations that Sterling refused to rent to blacks or Latinos in his Beverly Hills properties, and strove to keep Korea-town true to its name, because he thought it would allow him to maintain low building standards for his properties without complaint. We could try to tie him to the death of Kandynce Jones, a woman who died of a stroke while Sterling was threatening her with eviction despite her having never missed a payment, but Sterling has led a long life, and we have yet to get to how he deals with his employees.\n\nAccording to Jeff Pearlman, Sterling would have hired stalwart college coach Rollie Massimino in 1984, but Massimino balked at the interview question of “I wanna know why you think you can coach these niggers.”\n\nTo his credit, just two years later Sterling hired NBA legend Elgin Baylor to be the vice president of basketball operations for the Clippers and employed him for 22 years, but his tenure ended with a wrongful termination suit full of ugliness. As detailed by Lisa Dillman, Baylor’s request for judicial compensation was dismissed, but full of acquisitions like Sterling stating his preference for a southern white coach to lead a group of poor black players, telling first overall pick Danny Manning “that’s a lot of money for a poor black kid,” while trying to lowball him in negotiations and bringing in his girlfriends—yes, he is also a notorious and relentless adulterer—into the showers to marvel at the “beautiful black bodies” of his players while they bathed after games.\n\nWith this kind of conduct, it’s not surprising that Deadspin’s Tommy Craggs’ accounting of Sterling’s tenure has also included a sexual harassment suit, admissions of solicitation of prostitution, and generally creepy requests for seminude photos from hostesses. Wanton disrespect for the humanity of others becomes hard to compartmentalize after a while.\n\nHe also heckled Baron Davis from his courtside seats, while Baron Davis was playing for the Clippers. Compared to his other exploits, it was a rare moment where Sterling’s conduct aligned with the sentiment of the Clipper fanbase.\n\nThe Alleged Quotes:\n\nSterling, dealing with tenants:\n

Davenport reported what she saw to Sterling, and according to her testimony, he asked: ‘Is she one of those black people that stink?’ When Davenport told Sterling that Jones wanted to be reimbursed for the water damage and compensated for her ruined property, he replied: ‘I am not going to do that. Just evict the bitch.’\n-Pulled from legal filings by Tommy Craggs of Deadspin

\nSterling, dealing with women:\n

Every secretary is honey. I’m a very flowery man. If you are having sex with a woman you are paying for, you always call her honey because you can’t remember her name.\n-Deposition pulled by The Smoking Gun

\nElgin Baylor, on working with Donald Sterling:\n

Baylor claims the team has ‘egregious salary disparities’ based on race. Baylor claims he was told to ‘induce African American players to join the Clippers, despite the Clippers’ reputation of being unwilling to fairly treat and compensate African American players.’ Baylor says the owner, Donald Sterling, has a ‘pervasive and ongoing racist attitude.’\n-TMZ

\nOwner Depravity Equivalency Rating:\n\nIf he were a dictator, I doubt Sterling would have the gusto and ambition for a brutal campaign of conquest or bloodthirsty slaughter. He seems more of the type that revels constant self-indulgence while those around him suffer and toil as the result of his indifference. Racism can only truly thrive with ignorance, though Sterling’s is very much of the willful type. He regularly displays disregard of other humans beyond how they might be able to serve him, and outright contempt upon learning that he might have to do something for them instead.\n\nRating: Human embodiment of the decadence of Rome*\n\n\n\n*\”Decadence\” being the cause of the fall of Rome is a concept that’s been largely dismissed, but chances are it originated with someone reading about a Sterling-like figure and getting carried away. Which is understandable.\n\n 

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