Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, should give Cliven Bundy a call. After Sterling loses his NBA franchise and the deadbeat Nevada rancher loses his cattle to the Bureau of Land Management, the two old racists will both need a buddy. Maybe they can team up together and open an all-white rodeo.
As most of the country has learned in the last couple of days, Sterling wrecked his three-decade tenure as the unsuccessful and unliked boss of L.A.’s No. 2 professional basketball team by making racially charged comments to his girlfriend -- comments that the girlfriend recorded and that, mysteriously, ended up on the TMZ website.
Actually, girlfriend does not quite capture the disputed nature of the relationship between Sterling and the former Maria Vanessa Perez, who now goes by the name V. Stiviano. In the lawsuit that has been brought against the 31-year-old Stiviano by the 80-year-old Sterling’s 80-year-old estranged wife, Rochelle, Stiviano is accused of engaging “in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from, cheat and/or receive as gifts transfers of wealth from wealthy older men whom she targets for such purpose.”
Mrs. Sterling claims Stiviano received $2.5 million in gifts from her husband, including four high-end luxury cars and a deluxe apartment, and she insists that the young woman conned Donald into coughing up the goods. Stiviano’s attorney calls that allegation ridiculous and also says his client never had sex with the old man. In documents asking that the case be dismissed, the lawyer said, “Nowhere in the complaint is it alleged that defendant so acted nor that the feminine wiles of Ms. Stiviano overpowered the iron will of Donald T. Sterling who is well known as one of the most shrewd businessmen in the world.”
“Shrewd” might be an overstatement, given the mess Sterling has now made for himself by berating his mixed-race gal pal for hanging out with too many black men. Most notably, he complained about an Instagram picture Stiviano posted of herself standing next to basketball legend Magic Johnson. Jealousy did not seem to be Sterling’s concern. His comments made it pretty clear he simply found it unsavory for her to be seen in public with blacks.
This is a man whom ex-Clippers general manager and NBA great Elgin Baylor accused of having a “plantation mentality.” In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice hit Sterling with housing-discrimination charges because of his alleged refusal to rent his residential properties to African Americans. Over the years he has made various offensive remarks about blacks and Latinos. Nevertheless, the guy has given so much money to the L.A. chapter of the NAACP that the organization honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 2009 and was set to give him another in May.
That won’t be happening now. On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver denounced the Clippers’ owner for his remarks about blacks, fined him $2.5 million, slapped him with a lifetime ban from any association with the Clippers or the NBA and said he would seek the support of NBA team owners to force Sterling to sell the L.A. franchise.
Donald Sterling is finally learning there are limits to what money can buy. His wealth got him a basketball team, a gorgeous young woman to sit by him at games and even an award from the NAACP. But it is unlikely he can buy his way out of the shame he has brought on himself with rancid remarks about race. Maybe he should just retreat to Nevada where he could talk about black folks and find a receptive audience in Cliven Bundy.