Anger toward Donald Sterling spreads through social media

Anger toward Clippers owner Donald Sterling, shown in 2010, surged through social media on Saturday.
(Danny Moloshok / Associated Press)

Vitriol toward Clippers owner Donald Sterling surged through social media Saturday as outrage over his alleged racist comments in an audio recording found a home in tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram snapshots.

The anger, usually attached to the fast-growing #DonaldSterling and #BoycottClippers hashtags, crossed the nation. It united hard-core basketball fans and sports neophytes, celebrities and everyday people, young and old in their condemnation of the 80-year-old Sterling.

They wondered how he could remain owner. They demanded his ouster. They called him names. They discussed his sordid history with racial issues. They mocked. They vented. They wondered whether the Clippers should boycott Sunday’s playoff game against the Golden State Warriors.

Some of these displays were subtle.


Clippers center DeAndre Jordan posted a simple black square to his Instagram account Saturday morning. The gesture echoed a move by Trayvon Martin supporters last year to “black out” their social media profile pictures in a show of solidarity.

Jordan didn’t attach a comment to the picture. But he tweeted it to his more than 426,000 Twitter followers. Retweeted almost 2,000 times, the black square joined the chorus of indignation.

By Saturday night, Trendsmap, a website that visualizes social media trends on maps, illustrated the extent of the outpouring of anger. Keywords associated with Sterling, not on-court happenings, floated above cities from Boston to Dallas to Los Angeles and dozens of stops in between.

#BoycottClippers. Racist. #DonaldSterling. Clippers.

That the Clippers lead the Warriors, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series in the first round of the NBA playoffs seemed a distant memory. The owner’s purported words, against a years-long backdrop of similar allegations, swept all of that away.

One of the most popular — and profane — responses to Sterling came in a brief Instagram video by Snoop Dogg. The 33-word message, not suitable for family viewing, includes eight profanities and, in its more charitable portions, referred to Sterling as a “redneck” and “racist.” The musician ended the video with the hope that Sterling’s future endeavors aren’t successful.

Adam McKay, director of the “Anchorman” movies and “Talladega Nights,” tweeted the intention to surrender his Clippers season tickets. He described Sterling as a “massive racist” and didn’t want to give him another dime.

A columnist with the (Memphis, Tenn.) Commercial Appeal tweeted a quip that the Sons of the Confederacy would be erecting a statue to honor Sterling in a Memphis park.


A more nuanced response came from Jeremiah Rivers whose father, Doc, coaches the Clippers.

In a series of impassioned tweets Saturday, the 26-year-old Rivers spoke out against those who advocate boycotting the Clippers because of Sterling. That plea turned into a thoughtful discourse on hate, race and basketball. The invective that permeated much of the national discussion was absent.

“One man cannot have the power to make me feel hate towards a group, race or another persons skin color,” Rivers wrote. “Nor would I allow them to have the power over me to not support the players and coaches that have done nothing wrong.

“Hate the man all you want, show him no mercy if you must. But the players who put on that Jersey do it because [they] love basketball.


“Racism isn’t born, it’s taught. It is the refuge of ignorance and seeks to divide and destroy.

“The Clippers need the people, fans and city of LA more then ever. The team deserves it.”

The denouncements continued to rocket through social media, almost too quickly to track. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s impromptu news conference about the matter Saturday night did nothing to assuage the virtual uprising. After the news conference, the #DonaldSterling hashtag once again became the top trending term in the U.S. The #BoycottClippers hashtag followed close behind.

The NBA’s playoff games continued Saturday night. So did the condemnations of Sterling that only seemed to grow louder as time moved forward.