The racist shenanigans of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling appear to be coming to a close with ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer offering to pay $2 Billion for the beleaguered franchise. After all of the public criticism, the celebrity tongue lashings from the likes of Snoop Dogg and Little Wayne, the quasi-fascist chanting of “We Are One” by tens of thousands of fans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the threats of a players strike if Sterling was not ousted from the league led by LeBron James, the Clipper players turning their warm ups inside out as a united display of shame for the action of their boss before a playoff game, the hopes of the team being purchased by Oprah Winfrey or Floyd Mayweather, after all of that hype and hoopla not only does the team go from being owned by one rich white man to being owned by another even wealthier one but Donald Sterling makes out like a fat rat, earning way more money than the team was actually worth. The next closest bid was $1.6 Billion. So how should the American public feel about this? Are we any closer to achieving Martin Luther King’s dream of equality now? Was any progress made whatsoever?
The American consumer is being led to believe that Donald Sterling was an aberration, a prejudiced anomaly in a sea of progressive, good-hearted, liberal, franchise owners who coincidentally are all white males. It’s also completely unexplainable why 80% of NBA players are black but there is only one African-American majority owner (and that one black owner happens to be the greatest basketball player of all time). Have we as a society been so blinded by idea of cultural sensitivity that we have forgotten that institutionalized racism thrives in every facet of American business? Have we misconstrued the original intent of integration so much that we honestly believe that white people allowing blacks to work for them without calling them niggers is what the civil rights movement was about? Do we think that as long as blacks are treated with dignity as they dedicate their whole lives to building corporations that will never belong to them then we are headed down the right track? It seems as though we have allowed the term black owner to become an oxymoron in American lexicon. And as long as we can physically see black people dunking, scoring, and hoisting trophies at the end of every season on our television screens then we don’t care.
Looking back at this whole affair it is easy to see how things worked out great for Donald Sterling—at least from a financial perspective. It is also quite simple to see how the conclusion of this ordeal worked out really well for the NBA owners as they are able to wipe the sweat from their collective brow and exhale at the thought of knowing that they will be able to continue to make billions of dollars while dolling out mere millions to big black athletic men that they would be deathly afraid of if they ever encountered them without an NBA jersey on their backs. It is, however, impossible to see how the handling of the Donald Sterling scandal has made the NBA a less racist place. Diehard basketball fans can rejoice as they root for either the San Antonio Spurs or the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals. They are thrilled because the introduction of Steve Ballmer symbolizes the removal of the last hurdle in the Sterling saga and now, thank god, we are back to business as usual. But as citizens of a country built by innovators, dreamers, revolutionaries, and freedom fighters we must ask ourselves do we really want business as usual or do we want change?