A Sterling Idea
By FREDDY WEINBERG
Special To The Chris Brockman Website
LOS ANGELES — We can all agree that the now banned-for-life Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been found guilty in the court of public opinion. How the conversation that did him in came into the public discourse is irrelevant at this point. Whether his girlfriend’s recording was legal is also moot. But how we move forward will say a lot about who we are as Americans and what kind of country we want to live in moving forward.
To me, the idea of stripping a man of his property because he’s a racist prick is scary. Sure the National Basketball Association has every right to enforce its bylaws and policies. But here’s the thing, we have all said and done things that would make us look like assholes. And if we start stripping property from crotchety white guy who have treated people poorly and said offensive things, then mobs are going to form in every major city in the nation.
Not so long ago there was a group of people who decided to take people’s businesses away because of ancient beliefs. We called them Nazis.
The media and fans are equally guilty of something else as well. The aforementioned controversial conversation and the ensuing media circus this week has brought more people and more interest to the Clippers/Warriors playoff series. The result is increased viewership and ultimately allowed a host of media companies to profit from this whole mess.
Lost in it all is the Clippers franchise which has lived in the shadow of its Lakers big brother its entire existence. Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have finally put their Showtime counterparts in the back seat while they drive down Sunset Boulevard like the true NBA players that they are. Only to be sabotaged by their own boss.
New commissioner Adam Silver wasted no time dropping the hammer on Sterling. I applaud his stance but not his punishment. The NBA and its owners (allegedly its players as well) are in the process of voting the 80-year old, long-time Los Angeles off the island, leaving him with few if any options. But we’re traveling down a dangerous road. And it’s a road that he’s been down before.
Sterling is a slumlord and a lawyer. Make no bones about it, he is not going away quietly. A protracted legal battle stands only to place players lives and the Clippers team in disarray. The only winners in that battle are an army of attorneys.
Despite the ugliness and prehistoric thinking responsible for this whole ordeal, I find myself agreeing with billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Marc Cuban; I’m not sure I want to live an America where a private conversation can ultimately allow others to strip a man of his property.
So how do we support the team and punish Sterling without resorting to fascist practices?
It’s simple, we start a grass roots campaign online and allow each and every American to vote with their actions and their wallet.
Every sponsor pulls their contracts.
Every season ticket holder cancels their tickets.
The Clippers themselves vow not to play until ownership changes.
Every other NBA player signs a pact not to play in Staples Center until ownership changes.
And every NBA fan in the nation can voice their outrage by promising not to watch a minute of any Clippers game unless ownership changes.
But do it all the day after the NBA season ends this June.
I’m talking about a viral push bigger than the “light saber kid,” stronger than “sneezing panda,” more powerful than “two girls, one cup.”
Set up a web page, shoot a couple of videos (comedy not porn to eviscerate this racist pussy) and get people to sign on the dotted line.
I _______________ hereby renounce the Los Angeles Clippers. I promise to end immediately any viewership, paraphernalia and/or business association with the Clippers Basketball Organization.
As for the army of bloggers, blow-dried TV sportscasters, radio hosts and legal stiffs destined to fall all over themselves as a result of being left in the dust by a movement taken out of their hands. Fuck’em. They’ll get over it.
Whether it’s the federal government or the NBA, too much power coupled with a mob mentality too often results in actions I just can’t endorse. But I do endorse the marketplace of ideas and good ‘ole fashion capitalism.
I think that is sterling idea. Don’t you?
If season ticket sales disappear along with sponsors and viewers while this dinosaur drags the process through the court system, the most likely scenario is a loss of a couple hundred million dollars in the Clippers franchise value.
See how eager Donald Sterling is to hold on to the team when that happens.
Two Cities, Two Playoff Games, One Week: A Recap
SACO, Maine — Playoff games, by definition, mean more than regular season contests. First, in the sense that there are less of them (duh), which adds to the anxiety in the building; two, there’s a sense of urgency, at least among the fans, because the end could come at any moment; and finally, if those involved fail to win, they lose their jobs.
The playoffs are a BFD*.
It’s also important to remember all sporting events mean more to “us” than it does to “them.” “Them,” of course, being the athletes (see Beckett, Josh). Coaches probably care as much as we do, at least it appears so, but since I am neither a professional athlete or coach, it was just straight up pretty cool to attend NBA playoff games in both Los Angeles and Boston in the span of a week, recently.
The Celtics and Clippers. The complete opposite of the basketball spectrum. Seventeen championship banners hang in the Boston Garden; Los Angeles’s second basketball team has eight playoff appearances in 42-year history in three different cities. On the drive back to Maine after the 76ers’ 82-81 win I thought about the differences between the two venues, the crowds, the styles of the games themselves and, of course, the teams involved.
I had a parter in crime for each game and how we came to attend both started the same way: a simple IM/text which more or less read “game tonight?” For the Clippers, my buddy Eric and I decided to go at 10 a.m. the day of. It didn’t take much convincing on my part to get him on board. Once we got to downtown Los Angeles, we were full-fledged members of Clippers Nation.
I’ll let @TheGhostMo take it from here:
Walking into the men’s bathroom at Staples Center, minutes before tip-off, I almost collided with three Orthodox Jewish men. These weren’t your Larry David-esque Jewish men. I’m talking real orthodox, complete with long curly side burns, yarmulkes, and formal suits. I would have thought I was on the corner of Beverly and Hauser, except for one thing: all three wore bright red “LAC RISEN” t-shirts over their suits. 4,000 years of religion couldn’t beat out Clipper fever on this night.
These three gentlemen weren’t the only ones wearing the complimentary garb. The entire men’s room bled red to the point that it wouldn’t look out of place on The Game’s album cover. There was only one person who wasn’t wearing the shirt, who instead had it slung over his shoulder, trying to look cool. That person was me.
I’m from Milwaukee. I grew up thinking it was commonplace to tailgate before every baseball game. I remember seeing a woman wear a Green Bay Packers Mark Chmura jersey…to the courtroom for his sexual assault trial. Every stadium in Wisconsin reeks of barley and hops and that’s the way we like it.
Since moving to LA, I’ve seen the Lakers play at home for every round of the playoffs, save the Finals. For the most part I’ve been disappointed. Everyone at Lakers games wishes (or incorrectly thinks) they’re part of the spotlight, that they’re on par with Jack Nicholson. People dress like they’re going to a club and stay hunkered on their cellphones like Obama is sexting them.
That’s why I hadn’t put on my shirt on yet. Because I figured the Clippers’ playoff scene would be more of the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As I exited the bathroom, an almost certainly intoxicated man grabbed my shoulder. “You’re putting the shirt on, right???” At that exact moment, I felt something hit my shoe. I looked down and saw an empty plastic bottle of tequila rolling past. Smiling, I threw the shirt on with glee and gave the stranger a massive high five. I’ve never felt more at home in this city. #LobCityBaby
That the Clippers won in overtime only added to the hysteria. It almost felt like we were back in the 315, head-to-toe in blue and orange; it was that type of crowd, which hasn’t been said for a Clippers game in, I’m guessing, ever. Sadly, there were no more LA games for us. Baby Brother edged the Grizzlies in 7 games only to be swept at the Spurs’ hand in the next round. Oh to what next year will bring, and if Chris Paul and Blake Griffin stay with the team beyond then, there could be many more years of postseason chances for the Lobbers.
A week later, in Boston, on the other hand, I expected 19,000 Sullys, Tommys and extras from “The Town” to be drunk, loud and drunk. I also didn’t expect to get a free T-shirt upon arrival. Matt, whom I called upon to attend the day before (along with my bro-in-law, who I convinced to call out sick from work) and is as just a big of a Celtics fan as me, said we’d get towels. He was correct. We also got placards with a gigantic “3” on it, presumably to hold up after someone on our team hit a 3-pointer. Fans are such sheep. I grabbed two of each.
It didn’t matter that we were sitting in the upper deck behind the basket, just being part of a legendary Celtics playoff crowd was something to behold. From the “Dee-Fence” chants on big possessions, to “Let’s Go Celtics!” on others, it was beyond loud at times and abrasive at others. A hot start by the home team became a faded memory by the third quarter when the 76ers took the lead. By the time the 4th quarter rolled around there wasn’t a butt in a seat and the roar when Avery Bradley hit a 3 with just over two minutes left to put the Celtics up 1 could be heard all the way in Worcester.
But, in the end, the sea of green couldn’t will the home chaps to victory, as the 76ers eeked out the one-point win — Kevin Garnett drained a meaningless 3 with no time left that surely only the gamblers cared about. I always enjoy the scene after games in Boston; everyone bitching about this and that, and the T-shirt vendors selling rubes at LeBron James, the Heat and my favorite, an homage to Greg Steimsma, the Celtics enthusiastic backup center. They’re cheap, and I’ve bought some in the past after Red Sox games. Matt got a couple and we made our way home.
The 90-minute or so drive back home after game in Boston, especially after a loss, is a lot like driving home from Las Vegas. You and your buddies usually just sit in silence, maybe make a Dunkin stop and it isn’t until you hit the Maine border before someone speaks up. Usually it’s an expletive about the game; kinda like how you curse the tables in Vegas by the time you hit Barstow.
Back in Los Angeles, the games start three hours earlier and those wearing Green are few and far between. With Game 7 vs. Philadelphia set for Saturday, and the Lakers car flags replaced by finger pointing for their early exit, I’ll take solace that we have at least one more game.
I’ll be there in spirit.
* – Big. Fu^king. Deal.