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Players had to cover coach’s cancer surgery because Clippers wouldn’t

Mar 15, 2011, 12:15 PM EDT

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The Clippers — behind the force of nature that is Blake Griffin — are on the precipice of being good. Maybe very good. Only the Thunder are a young team as well positioned to grow into a contender as the Clippers. Los Angeles has a franchise player, a good number two in Eric Gordon, quality young role players, future picks, a very reasonable salary number going forward. Just keep making smart decisions and they can be right there.

And yet, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because they are the Clippers and their owner Donald Sterling will find a way to screw it up. The stories about him are more horrifying with each new revelation.

This latest one may top the list — several years ago Clippers assistant coach Kim Hughes had prostate cancer, but the team wouldn’t pay for surgery.

We’ll let Gery Woelfel at the Journal-Times tell the story.

“I contacted the Clippers about medical coverage and they said the surgery wouldn’t be covered,” Hughes said. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And they said if they did it for one person, they’d have to do for everybody else.”

When (then Clippers coach Mike) Dunleavy learned the Clippers wouldn’t cover the cost of Hughes’ surgery, he mentioned it to his players.

Several of them, including now Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Marko Jaric, were taken aback by the news and decided to offer their assistance.

“Kim was one of our coaches and he’s a really good friend of mine, too,” Maggette said. “He was in a situation where the Clippers’ medical coverage wouldn’t cover his surgery. I thought it was a great opportunity to help someone in need, to do something that Christ would do. It shows your humanity, that you care for other people and not just yourself. Kim was in a life-and-death situation.”

That says a lot about the players on that team and their unselfishness. Their humanity.

It says plenty about the Clippers and their owner, too.

  1. b7p19 - Mar 15, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    Donald Sterling can’t be bothered with such things…

  2. grizzfan - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    “The Clippers — behind the force of nature that is Blake Griffin — are on the precipice of being good. Maybe very good.”

    Are you kidding me, they are 16 games under .500. The Thunder are 20 games over .500, how can you possibly mention them in the same sentence. The Grizz are a young team much closer to make the leap to contender than the Clippers.

    The reason for this story is another example of how the Clippers management and ownership will find a way to do the wrong thing and keep the Clippers in the cellar for another decade or two.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 15, 2011 at 2:44 PM

      I love the Grizzlies, but where does the growth to contender come from? With the Clippers, who were bad this season, I can see the path of growth and room to bring in new players. I see the Grizzlies as a good team who will continue to be a good team, but are not poised for some huge leap.

  3. sknut - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    I am sure there isn’t anything he could do, but Stern should try to force Sterling to sell the team. Its funny how players are held accountable but owners don’t have to. What a joke.

    • goforthanddie - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:56 PM

      Commissioners do stuff all the time that’s “in the best interest of the league”. Marge Schott had to give up the Cincinnati Reds because of racist comments.
      If enough players just said “Fsck it, I’m not playing for the Clippers”, the problem would have to be addressed. But I suppose his green is as good as anyone’s.

      • sknut - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:04 PM

        While I agree with your premise, I wonder what Stern would do if the Clippers weren’t in LA and in a small market then I would suppose he would exert more force on the owner. The only thing Stern sees is dollar signs, so yes you are right that the players need to stop playing for the Clippers.

  4. jeffro33 - Mar 15, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    I am an ethical guy, but I can say with no remorse that Donald Sterling has to be walked blindfolded in front of a firing squad. He is a despicable human being.

    I wish Sterling would go by the way of Randolph and Mortimer Duke, or was involved heavily with Bernie Madoff…

  5. dolphinatic - Mar 15, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Damn, now I have to stop hating on Brand and Maggette. Sterling is an A-Hole. Can’t afford it? Die Quickly. Nice mentality. It’s called people over profits. End the era of greed. That is all.

  6. jcantu37 - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    The Grizz have a ceiling that doesn’t reach being a title contender. And remember, Durant in his rookie season and 2nd season won a combined 43 games. Thunder grew into who they are now as I think the Clips will. That is, assuming Blake is there for the long haul.

  7. evh12345 - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Anyone know how much prostate surgery costs? (Would have been a good factoid to put the article in perspective)

    • cordae - Mar 15, 2011 at 5:08 PM

      Anyone know how much money professional teams generate?….

    • SmackSaw - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:07 PM

      $70,000

      It’s in the story.

  8. chargerdillon - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Donald Sterling is cheap?! This isnt news to anybody.

    It also shouldnt be news to anybody that as soon as Blake Griffin’s first contract is finished, he’ll be playing somewhere else making the money Donald Sterling would never pay him or any real superstar.

    That being said, is it anybodys fault if you get cancer? Is it your bosses fault if you get cancer? There’s lots of cheap business men all over this country who could give a crap about their employees, and im sure there’s far more people who make less money than this coach dealing with cancer on their own not expecting their bosses to help them or do anything.

    Is Donald Sterling a total jerk? He was long before this story came out. Is Donald Sterling responsible for somebody getting cancer…… no he is not

  9. jhorton83 - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:48 PM

    I think it’s safe to say that Donald Sterling is the worst owner in all of the major sports. And I mean that in the sense that he’s clearly the worst person among all of them.

  10. bigtrav425 - Mar 15, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    in all Fairness i understand where the Clippers were coming from because they would have to do it for anyone else.and also did he mention that it was as serious as it was and he would die? If he didnt mention that to him then its on him.it also goes to show me that he cared more about his coaching then his family if he would of rather not miss preseason then his family.The choice for him should of been a no brainer.Have the surgery with the doc on your plan now and be able to live and hang and see your family…on the other hand its also good to hear stories about the players who help the coaches or even anyone out for that matter ,especially with all the negativity out there

    • secdominance - Mar 16, 2011 at 12:09 AM

      I stopped interacting on message boards but this may be the dumbest, stupidest thing I’ve read from a sports fan in quite some time. The Clippers medical plan didn’t cover the surgery and Sterling wasn’t gonna give him the money. Furthermore, exactly how do you understand where the Clippers are coming from? This should be something ALL employers do for employees facing life threatening illnesses.

      I’d like to see more civility on message boards but your comments deserve some legit vitriol.

  11. zackd2 - Mar 15, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    What a horrible human being.

  12. dsharpe8 - Mar 15, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    And this is why the clippers will never win anything as long as Sterling is running the show…

  13. 1historian - Mar 16, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    A number of years ago there was a story in Sports Illustrated about what a skinflint this guy was – and is. As long as he owns the team it will be like this. This is merely the latest incident.
    Griffin won’t be there long – why should he? Sterling won’t do anything – spend money to get better players – to make it a better team.

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