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FILE - In this Dec. 19, 2010, file photo, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is intent on moving quickly in dealing with the racially charged scandal surrounding Clippers owner Sterling. The NBA league will discuss its investigation Tuesday, April 29, 2014, before the Clippers play Golden State in Game 5 of their playoff series. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)
Monson: Thank heaven, I told Donald Sterling no
First Published Apr 29 2014 09:18 am • Last Updated Apr 29 2014 11:55 pm

It was one of the smartest little decisions I’ve ever made.

Telling Donald Sterling no.

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Back in the 1989-90 season, Sterling read a story I’d written while working for a Los Angeles newspaper and he liked it, or so one of his underlings said when he called me to issue an invitation. This is how that conversation went:

Sterling rep: Gordon, Mr. Sterling really enjoyed your recent article.

Me: Oh, thanks. Tell him thanks.

Sterling rep: He liked it so much he would like to invite you to dinner and to an upcoming Clippers game. You can dine with him and then sit next to him and visit during the game and get to know one another better.

Me: Uh.

Sterling rep: I think you would enjoy his company. He really wants you to come along. He’s looking forward to it.

Me: Uh.

Sterling rep: No, no, he really liked your article. It’s a personal invitation from him. He asked me to call you.


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Me: Can I get back to you on this?

Sterling rep: OK, here’s my number, my information, dial me up as soon as possible and I’ll let Mr. Sterling know. He’s eager to hear from you.

That was it.

Nothing extraordinary. Just an invitation out of the blue from the largest real estate holder in Beverly Hills, the man who had done an abysmal job of owning the Clippers, but a spectacular job of making a billion dollars and throwing outrageous parties with his famous friends in and around Hollywood.

I looked into the invite and it was legit. I also looked into Sterling, the man, to find out what I could about the person doing the inviting. What I discovered was a dirty rich dude with whom I wasn’t thrilled about spending any time. He seemed like a jerk.

I told his rep thanks, but no thanks.

Sterling wanted me to go to dinner and a game with him because he liked what I had written, and, apparently, come to find out all these years later, because I wasn’t black.

The NBA investigated the authenticity of the bombshell recording made by Sterling’s girlfriend that TMZ.com released over the weekend, the one in which he scolded her for posting pictures of herself with African Americans like Magic Johnson to her Instagram account and inviting African Americans to Clippers games, and rightly found it inexcusable.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced at a press conference Tuesday that he was banning Sterling for life from the NBA, fining him $2.5 million, and urging the league’s board of governors to force the owner to sell the team. He said Sterling’s voice "has no place in the NBA."

Good, strong move by the commissioner. The correct move.

Excerpts from the Sterling recording included:

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