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In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, right, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Kragthorpe: Donald Sterling’s NBA ownership tenure must end

NBA » In what has been an epic playoffs, Clippers owner is a huge blemish

By kurt kragthorpe

| Tribune Columnist

First Published Apr 28 2014 09:40 am • Last Updated Apr 28 2014 11:30 pm

Donald Sterling ruined the best month in NBA history, but maybe the league can turn this episode into a victory.

The only consolation for everyone involved will come when Sterling’s behavior leads to the end of his ownership tenure.

At a glance

NBA to hold news conference Tuesday

The NBA is planning a news conference Tuesday on its investigation into L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who has come under fire for comments he is alleged to have made in a recorded conversation with a woman. Portions of that conversation were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin, leading to a national outcry.

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The Los Angeles Clippers’ owner has completely clouded the most entertaining first round of playoffs that the league has ever staged. His racist remarks, heard on an audio recording, surfaced this past weekend via TMZ.

The NBA has scheduled a Tuesday news conference to discuss its investigation of Sterling, before the Clippers host Golden State in Game 5. The league must deal with him harshly. It is unclear whether the other owners could force him to sell the team, according to their bylaws.

But the universal backlash could succeed in pushing him to sell. And really, why would he even want to own the team at this point? I know this: If Sterling remains in place, the Jazz will move up as a free-agent destination.

Magic Johnson, the former Lakers star whose group owns the Los Angeles Dodgers, is said to be interested in buying the Clippers. That would be a wonderful, meaningful solution to a huge problem for the NBA.

When the news broke regarding Sterling’s statements, you probably were thinking the same thing I was: Well, there goes his NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award.

You can’t make up this stuff. Sterling was scheduled next month to receive his second such recognition from the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Never mind that he once settled a Department of Justice lawsuit regarding housing discrimination or that a wrongful termination suit from former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor once accused Sterling of racism.

Sterling has provided Clippers tickets to minority youth, but that gesture seems awfully hollow now. Where are we as a society in this century when an NBA team owner can hold such prejudices?

It was disheartening to read in Monday’s Tribune about the Rev. France Davis of Calvary Baptist Church, detailing incidents of mistreatment as an African-American in his early days in Utah. Fortunately, those episodes occurred nearly 40 years ago, and he spoke of how our state has changed in that time.

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But all it takes is one tape, apparently of Donald Sterling’s voice, to undo some degree of societal progress. It might be different if Sterling were not in such a position of authority in sports, but because he has that status, his attitude is more disgusting.

The sad thing is that anyone who loves the NBA should be celebrating this month. Everything that’s transpired is unfair to the Clippers, who clearly were distracted Sunday in a Game 4 loss to Golden State. Partly for the wrong reasons, that series really becomes intriguing now, as the Clippers try to regroup at home.

And imagine this: The Clippers-Warriors battle is the least entertaining of the four series in the Western Conference.

The West’s competition has been incredible. Everybody probably should have seen this coming, considering what was required to make the playoffs. But to have road teams win eight of the 15 games through Sunday, and have six games go into overtime? That’s astounding, and that’s not counting what happened Saturday, when No. 1-seeded San Antonio and Dallas traded 2-point and 3-point shots in the last 1.7 seconds of a tie game.

Oklahoma City’s series with Memphis has produced three overtime games, and so has Portland-Houston.

It’s good stuff, throughout the West. The only blemish is Donald Sterling, and that problem must be fixed.


Twitter: @tribkurt

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