To those of you taking the time to read this, you are well aware of my very public and documented love affair with the NBA. It’s long, it’s varied, it has, at times, been borderline unhealthy. You may also be aware that over the last 10 months or so, me and the NBA have been in an unofficial trial separation. There are a multitude of reasons why I have chosen to estrange myself from the league I loved from literally the second I saw it as a saucer-eyed 6 year-old walking into the old Inglewood Forum to see Eddie Jones and Cedric Ceballos and Nick Van Exel and Vlade Divac.
I lived it. I breathed it. I mailordered (more than once) the NBA Official Register and made a Zine called “Andy Rafner’s Week in Sportz”. (Z added for extra-90s effect). It sucks that I’m about to say what I’m about to say: the NBA and I’s breakup is official.
Things you already know: Donald Sterling is a racist. Always has been, always will be. The shit that has come to light via a 20 year old idiot recording a crazy old coot isn’t the first indictment of Sterling and his not-so secret feelings about Black, Latino and Asians. Do a quick Google search to see what I’m getting at. Writing my opinions about what Donald Sterling has said and done at this point is redundant compared to what more accomplished and respected writers and thinkers can say or write. I’ll leave the present outrage directed at this shithead to them.
Things you may not know: The main reason the NBA and I are officially d-o-n-e after these playoffs is because of the rampant and institutional racism that stinks directly from the head of the NBA. The NBA, through former commissioner David Stern has enabled Donald Sterling for the better part of three decades. The league had many an indication that Sterling was a racist piece of shit. They did nothing. Why? Because in his tenure owning the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling MADE. MONEY. Fucker made money with Loy Vaught and Pooh Richardson. Fucker made money playing at the LA Sports Arena, and if you ever went to a Clipper game in the 90s, the Sports Arena was literally one notch above a toilet. From the outside, Donald Sterling was a scourge. A stain on the league and a total pariah. Internally, Donald Sterling was the NBA’s model owner. His teams were trash, he never paid players high salaries and he pocketed gobs of money. If the NBA had it their way, every owner would operate his team like Donald Sterling did until 2006. They didn’t care that the man was a piece of trash. Business was business. Racism was something the league best not focus on, that is, of course, until David Stern waged his War on Hip Hop, resulting in a leaguewide dresscode.
In baseball, when the benches clear and punches are thrown, suspensions handed down amount to a slap on the wrist. In hockey, fisticuffs warrant five minutes in the box. In the NBA, if you throw down, and I mean really throw down, you’re on the shelf for 30 games. Hell, maybe the whole season. Why? Well, it might have something to do with the NBA’s fear over public perception of black players acting “thuggish”.
The NBA is institutionally racist, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what that truly mean. The only real important takeaway here is that the NBA is a consortium of 30 franchise owners (all of them men, only two of color) whose sole interest is the aggressive expansion of revenue at the expense of ANYTHING that stands in it’s way, be it the humanity of young black men or otherwise.
Whatever happens tomorrow when the NBA’s new commissioner Adam Silver hands down whatever punishment the individual team owners see fit (remember, Silver works for them, not for basketball), it won’t be enough. They make Sterling sell the team? Well, Sterling bought the Clippers for $17 million and would likely net close to a BILLION dollars in profit from a sale. “Suspend” Sterling and they essentially have slapped him on the wrist, wagged their fingers and let him go on his way with nary a price to pay.
The onus at this point is on the Clippers’ players to divorce themselves from the brand. Wear generic uniforms that read simply “LOS ANGELES BASKETBALL” on the front, play and fucking WIN the NBA Championship as a group of really really good athletes representing a city, not a global corporation headed by racist capitalist pigs. Who is going to stop them at this point?
As for me, I’m going to root for the Los Angeles basketball team from a distance, and then, when these playoffs are over, never look back. NBA, we’re through. Fuck off and get bent.