Elgin Baylor lawsuit among Donald Sterling’s past racial issues

Elgin Baylor
Lakers legend Elgin Baylor, a former general manager of the Clippers, sued team owner Donald Sterling, alleging wrongful termination and discrimination on the basis of age and race in 2009. Above, Baylor at an event in Century City last year.
(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

The phone didn’t get a break at Elgin Baylor’s Los Angeles-area home Saturday afternoon.

Everyone seemed to want to speak to the former Clippers general manager after the racist recording attributed to the team’s owner, Donald Sterling, emerged late Friday on

Baylor declined to comment until a family attorney was consulted, but the 79-year-old member of the NBA’s Hall of Fame is part of Sterling’s history with racial issues.

Baylor sued Sterling and others in February 2009 in L.A. Superior Court for wrongful termination and discrimination on the basis of age and race. Baylor, who spent 22 years as Clippers general manager before departing in 2008, later dropped the race accusation. A jury ruled in favor of Sterling in March 2011.


In the original lawsuit, Baylor said that Sterling had a “vision of a Southern plantation-type structure” for the Clippers and accused the owner of a “pervasive and ongoing racist attitude” during long-ago contract negotiations with Danny Manning. The lawsuit also quoted Sterling as telling Manning’s agent, “I’m offering you a lot of money for a poor black kid.”

Baylor alleged Sterling said he wanted the Clippers to be “composed of ‘poor black boys from the South’ and a white head coach.”

Baylor also claimed that his salary had been frozen at $350,000 a year since 2003 while “the Caucasian head coach was given a four-year, $22-million contract.”

That coach was Mike Dunleavy, who became the team’s general manager when Baylor left. Dunleavy, too, became embroiled in litigation with the Clippers to collect the remainder of the money owed on the contract after the team fired him in 2010. The Clippers accused Dunleavy of defrauding the team; an arbitrator awarded the former coach and general manager $13 million in 2011.


Twitter: @nathanfenno