Clippers owner Donald Sterling draws foul for Black History Month ad
A case of March madness
Someone forgot to tell that to the Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that Black History Month is celebrated in February.
The Los Angeles Clippers ran a half-page advertisement in the Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, edition of the Los Angeles Times, boldly proclaiming their celebration of Black History Month. A smiling Donald Sterling is shown in a tux next to the Clippers phenom Blake Griffin.
“In honor of Black History Month,” the ad read, “the Clippers will admit 1,000 underprivileged children free.”
The game selected for the giveaway was Wednesday’s contest against the visiting Houston Rockets. The date? March 2, 2011.
The Clippers’ much-maligned team owner is being “whistled” for a huge public relations double dribble. First, however well-intentioned the gesture may have been, everyone knows— except maybe Clippers owner Sterling—that Black History Month is celebrated in February, not March. It has been that way for the last 35 years, 85 years if you go back to the founding of Negro History Week.
Black History Month had its origins as Negro History Week, when historian-author-journalist Carter G. Woodson created it in 1926. It was originally celebrated during the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1976, the observation was expanded to include all of February and became Black History Month. Apparently Sterling, who was born in 1933, played hooky during Black History Week/Month.
Second, the ad, as described in an ESPN article, “equates Black children with being underprivileged and makes a generalization about an entire race.”
Is this how Sterling “honors” Black History Month?
The ad inidcates that not much thought was given by the Clippers to celebrating Black History Month, which is especially troubling considering 13 of the 14 players on the current roster are Black. Moreover, it colors the entire Clippers organization with the same brush of insensitivity that their owner Sterling is painted with.
Sterling has a track record as long as the Clippers’ road losing streak of being involved in race-related controversy.
“Donald Sterling hasn’t had the greatest track record when it comes to dealing with race matters,” Earl Ofari Hutchinson told NBC News. He is considered “one of the most insensitive owners in the NBA,” quoted one Associated Press article.
“This is just another example of the Clippers’ owner’s insensitivity,” continued Hutchinson, president of the L.A. Urban Policy Roundtable.
But the Roundtable leader later cuts Sterling a little slack saying, “At least he did bring up Black History Month. He could have ignored it completely…so credit is given there.” Still, Hutchinson added that the faux pas, tells him that “Donald Sterling still has not got the message.”
Sterling’s antics have made him no stranger to the courts—both the hardwood and courts of law. Last year, over the course of several games, Sterling heckled point guard Baron Davis, one of his own players, from his courtside seat. Davis was later traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the NBA equivalent of being banished to Siberia. Yahoo! Sports reports that Davis is not the only Clipper player Sterling has heckled. Among others is center Chris Kaman.
In the court of law, the Associate Press noted that a group of 19 plaintiffs sued Sterling in 2003. Blacks and Latinos that live in a Koreatown building he owns leveled accusations of housing discrimination against him. In November 2009, Sterling was ordered to pay $2.73 million to settle the case in what the presiding judge called “one of the largest” settlements of its type.
NBA legend and former Clipper executive vice president and general manager, Elgin Baylor, filed a suit against Sterling and the Clippers in 2009. Baylor, a 22-year employee of the organization, sued the Clippers claiming racial and age discrimination. Baylor voluntarily dropped the racial discrimination charges last Friday.
Clipper fans are speaking out. Gabrielle Rodriguez told NBC News, “This shows some sort of disrespect in my opinion.” Regarding giving tickets to underprivileged kids Rodriguez said, “I think that sending that message, is kind of just saying that it correlates with African Americans being low income, and that’s just not right.” ESPN adds, “It remains to be seen how the team will determine whether the African American children who show up with the ad are underprivileged.”
The Clippers put their spin on their owner’s dropped ball in an e-mail statement to the L.A. Times: “This event is another successful, well-intentioned effort on the owner’s part to ensure that we give something meaningful back to our community. It’s as simple as that. That’s what matters. Parents will accompany their children at no cost and hundreds of families will benefit.”
The NBA has a strict dress code for its players. NBA teams have codes of conduct for player behavior both on and off the court. Several NBA arenas even have a code of conduct for their fans, especially when it comes to the consumption of beer. But the league apparently has no code of conduct for its owners. Given Sterling’s continued “inconsiderate” comments and actions toward Blacks, the Clippers, the NBA, and African Americans could certainly use an assist from commissioner David Stern.
MALIBU, Calif.—Scott Sterling, the 32-year-old son of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, has died of an apparent drug overdose in Malibu, authorities said today.
Sheriff's deputies discovered the body in an apartment in the 22600 block of Pacific Coast Highway at 11:29 p.m. Tuesday after going there in response to calls from friends of Sterling reporting he had not been seen in days, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Los Angeles Clippers forward and 2010-11 T-Mobile NBA Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin has donated the autographed 2011 Kia Optima midsize sedan used in his jaw-dropping dunk in the Sprite Slam Dunk at NBA All-Star 2011 for a public charity auction on AutoTrader.com to benefit Stand Up To Cancer.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The Los Angeles Lakers will receive their rings for winning the 2009-2010 NBA championship at Staples Center tonight and raise a banner emblematic of their 16th title, then begin their quest for a third consecutive championship by facing the Houston Rockets.
"This is the crowning moment of winning the championship,'' Laker forward Lamar Odom said.
I had a déjà vu moment last week while watching Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, receive the Los Angeles NAACP Chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Watching Sterling try to find the words of why he merited the award was like watching George Wallace try to convince Black voters that he had changed from his segregationist ways in the 1972 Presidential election.
The first page of the Constitution of the nation’s oldest, most venerable and respected civil right’s organization boldly states that it will wage a relentless fight to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens. During much of its century of existence, the NAACP has proudly and unambiguously done just that. It waged breath taking battles against economic and housing discrimination, racial slurs and defamation, and against poverty.