Racist greedhead Donald Sterling will pay $2.73 million to settle a federal housing bias lawsuit accusing him of all kinds of sleazy and thuggish behavior, none of which matters in David Stern's NBA if you're an owner.
The settlement is said to be the largest of its kind. Dan Wetzel rightly wonders why more people aren't talking about Sterling. Maybe it's because there's just so much to talk about that no one knows where to begin:
• In 2003, 19 tenants and the Housing Rights Center filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against Sterling, one of the biggest landowners in Los Angeles. (That case, too, was settled.) According to depositions given by one of Sterling's property supervisors and obtained by ESPN The Magazine's Peter Keating, Sterling didn't like renting to black people ("they smell"), Mexican-Americans ("just sit around and smoke and drink all day") and people with children ("brats"), though he did like Koreans because "they will take whatever conditions I give them and still pay the rent." (The property supervisor, Sumner Davenport, sued Sterling for sexual harassment. She lost.)
• When a tenant asked to be compensated for water damage in her flooded apartment, Sterling allegedly told Davenport, "Just evict the bitch."
• According to former general manger Elgin Baylor, Sterling envisioned a "Southern Plantation type structure" for the Clippers, one in which, as he allegedly put it to Baylor, "poor black boys from the South" played for a white head coach.
• Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $13 million. The franchise is now valued at $300 million. On his watch, the Clippers have lost 50 games in a season 20 times. Long ago, Sterling realized — correctly — that an owner could turn a tidy and effortless profit under the NBA's revenue-sharing system merely by losing cheaply and relying on the league's ever-fattening coffers.
• The NBA once fined Sterling $10,000 for suggesting the Clippers tank to help their draft position.
• As reported here, Sterling's scorekeepers in the late 1990s routinely and dramatically undercounted the Clippers' assist totals. Deliberate or not, the effect was to depress the value of the team's own players.
• According to Franz Lidz in Sports Illustrated, Sterling would refuse to add players even after injuries left the roster at the league minimum of eight. "The Clippers came close to forfeiting a game after forward Michael Brooks had oral surgery," Lidz wrote. "Brooks had to suit up, and he actually played, though his jaw was as swollen as Sterling's ego."
• Sterling once welshed on a $1,000 prize for a free-throw shooting contest, forcing the winner, a lawyer and season ticketholder named Michael Spilger, to sue. More than a year later, according to Lidz, Spilger got his money.
• During his first season as owner, according to Sports Illustrated, Sterling reportedly wanted to save money by jettisoning the team trainer. He asked coach Paul Silas if he would mind taping up players before games.
• According to Sports Illustrated: "Sterling is also said to have proposed to trim the team budget for his second season by slashing training-camp expenses from more than $50,000 to about $100, scouting from more than $20,000 to about $1,000, advertising from more than $200,000 to less than $9,000 and medical expenses from about $10,000 to $100."
• Sterling would solicit "hostesses" for private parties and Clippers events, one of whom told ESPN The Magazine: "Working for Donald Sterling was the most demoralizing, dehumanizing experience of my life. He asked me for seminude photos and made it clear he wanted more."
• A former employee sued Sterling for sexual harassment in 1996. According to testimony obtained by ESPN The Magazine, Sterling would order her to find massage therapists, saying, "I want someone who will, you know, let me put it in or who [will] suck on it." The case was settled.
• In 2003, Sterling acknowledged paying a woman named Alexandra Castro $500 every time "she provided sex." He testified: "It was purely sex for money, money for sex, sex for money, money for sex." He would call her honey, but for decidedly unromantic reasons. "I'm a very flowery man," he said. "If you are having sex with a woman you are paying for, you always call her honey because you can't remember her name."
And that's just a partial list. Remember Sterling the next time someone projects his private demographic terrors on all the "thugs" in the NBA. In his time as the Clippers' owner, he has behaved far more repulsively than any wayward player ever suspended by David Stern; if Sterling were a small forward, he'd be looking for a run in Minsk right about now. But he's an owner and a wealthy real-estate magnate, and for those reasons and no other, a league so concerned about its public image that it tells its players how to dress will happily overlook the fact that Donald T. Sterling is a cheap, whoring bigot.
L.A. Clippers' Sterling Settles Housing Bias Lawsuit [Bloomberg]
Uncontested: The life of Donald Sterling [ESPN The Magazine]
Up And Down In Beverly Hills [Sports Illustrated]