The biggest threat to the
The biggest danger to the Clippers wasn't in a luxury box, where she unabashedly showed up at
On a sweepin' Oklahoma Wednesday night where outside winds temporarily dimmed the lights and inside desperation made the
But, as a Times report indicated earlier Wednesday, the respite will be brief. Shelly
Shortly before they lost to Oklahoma City, 112-101, to tie this second-round playoff series at one game apiece, the embattled Clippers teetered closer to the edge of chaos with the news that all this ugliness is about to get uglier.
Shelly Sterling told The Times she believes she is legally entitled to own the team despite the league's effort to strip it from her husband, and indicated she would fight to keep it, and can you imagine?
Just when a fragile Clippers team was beginning to trust that the reign of a racist was over, they learn that they could still be playing for his longtime partner who has also been alleged to be his co-conspirator?
"We almost made it out of Oklahoma City," said Clippers Coach
The NBA has to respond quickly again. How can it have a co-owner who has been involved in racist allegations now claiming she's in charge of a team whose other co-owner has just been banned for racist comments?
Shelly Sterling is that toxic. She is that dangerous. She is more than just preening blond and leather. She is, by all appearances, cold and calculating. One minute she is claiming her estranged husband is not a racist. The next minute she is condemning his "small-mindedness" and "racist comments."
One minute she tells The Times, "The focus remains on our team winning an NBA championship." Yet for the previous 10 days she has distracted the team from that focus by showing up at games even though the league has asked her to stay away.
She is Cruella de Sterling, and her presence strikes the Clippers' players at the center of their collective conscience.
Just when they've proudly stood firm against ever playing again for Donald Sterling, now they have to worry about playing for someone whose actions have been allegedly just as despicable?
At this point, they have resigned themselves to allowing the NBA to handle all matters Sterling, and will probably take no action on the latest news. But what are they and their inner circles going to be thinking about it? And how is that going to affect how they play?
How can they stomach the idea of playing for a woman who is featured on a video that shows her posing as a health inspector entering the Sterling-owned apartments of minority renters? The video was part of a lawsuit in which the plaintiffs testified that her intention was to, "harass and intimidate African American and Latino tenants."
How can they stand the notion of working for someone who was featured in depositions in which it is alleged that she claimed Latinos were "filthy," and that she once called a tenant a "who do you think you are, you black [bleep]" after he attempted to reduce his rent.
One deposition even claimed that she told a tenant she agreed with her husband's opinion of African Americans, saying, "See, Sterling is right, they do smell."
Donald Sterling reached a $2.8-million settlement with the
To the Clippers, Shelly Sterling's very presence will be all wrong, and what will happen when they start seriously pondering a future with this ugliness? This could not only distract them the rest of the season — remember, they've already protested once by turning their shooting shirts inside out — but could tear apart the Clippers in the future.
Nobody is going to want to play for her, yet the team's stars are all stuck in long-term contracts.
If Shelly Sterling is the boss this summer, and if the NBA doesn't have an obvious plan to eject her, it would not be surprising if some of the Clippers — including and especially Rivers — petition the league to be free of their deals and play elsewhere.
When asked about the news of Shelly Sterling's fighting to keep the team Wednesday night, Paul said, "That's the first I ever heard of it. I'll worry about that later."