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Why Donald Sterling and Marge Schott got away with it for so long

Apr 28, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

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Donald Sterling, in the last couple days, has commonly been compared to Marge Schott.

Schott owned the Cincinnati Reds from 1984-1999. In that period, she repeatedly showed herself to be racist, anti-Semitic and just generally intolerant. Yet, baseball enabled her for a long time.

Basketball has enabled Donald Sterling for a long time, too. That might change tomorrow afternoon, but it won’t erase previous years as Sterling became the NBA’s longest-tenured owner.

Why did Sterling and Schott get so much leeway to behave badly?

Joe Posnanski wrote a strong column addressing that question and why times are changing. Posnanski:

Well, owners protected owners. It’s always been that way. They would have protected Marge Schott too, protected her to the very end, except she wouldn’t keep quiet. She just loved to talk to the press. People tried to protect her, but she could not help herself. Baseball didn’t suspend and eventually push out Marge Schott for how she ran her team or even for her views. They suspended and pushed her out because she would not shut up about Hitler and African Americans and it finally was too destructive to baseball to overlook.

Like with Marge Schott: The NBA knew what Donald Sterling was about. They knew. Over the last couple of days, you have no doubt seen the long litany of racism charges, sexual harassment charges and huge settlements floating in his wake. The league knew about Sterling. The players who cared to know, knew. Everybody who wanted to know, knew. He was just about the last guy you would want owning an NBA team.

But Sterling, like Schott, got into the club. And he did enough generous things to keep getting awards for his charitable work from groups like the NAACP (he was about to receive his second NAACP lifetime achievement award before the tapes came out). And the NBA was willing — no, more than willing, they were happy — to tolerate Sterling’s obvious history of narrow-mindedness and sleaziness so long as he didn’t embarrass the NBA in some deeper way.

I suggest reading Posnanski’s column in full. You’ll better understand the current situation if you do.

  1. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    This is a perfect example of why being humble is one of the greatest qualities. Instead most people who are super wealthy become so self absorbed that they believe their money makes them better then everyone else. You might have nicer stuff then everyone else but you are not better. Having this mindset at his age and for so long has caused him to become delusional. This is not an over night thing and more so a feeling that has grown over the years.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:05 PM

      Grown over the years? More like it’s been this way since recorded history.

      • nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:58 PM

        I was speaking of him directly.His hate has festered and he sounded certifiable insane. No reason to turn this into a bigger thing.

  2. drewsylvania - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Money protects money. Sometimes to our benefit, but much of the time to our peril.

  3. asimonetti88 - Apr 28, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Marge Schott was an intolerant moron just like Sterling, but at least she was a good owner. The Reds won the World Series. The Clippers have been the punchline of the NBA since Tokowitz bought them.

  4. mackcarrington - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    I can’t believe all this is happening in a “post racial” society.

    • 00maltliquor - Apr 29, 2014 at 1:58 AM

      Where’s the sarcasm font when you need it?

  5. antistratfordian - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    No owner would’ve been able to get away with it for long if they were caught red-handed like this.

  6. mblue24 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    This BS is so stupid. Let the guy say what’s he wants to days in privacy. People need to quit throwing the racist thing up everytime. His gold doig we of a girlfriends set the owner up and it’s BS. People wake up. Have you ever said smtg you didn’t want anybody to hear before. Yes, everybody has. Wake the f— up people. It’s bad enough Nobama is ruining our country now and u going to let a gold digger girlfriend record and it’s ok. Wte people. Get with it.

    • imnotyourbuddyguy - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:04 PM

      So you think his rights are more important than his business partners? The NBAPA and the other owners don’t have the right to protect their product? Who cares that it’s from a gold digging tramp? The cat is out of the bag and what should be old news is now on display for everyone to see.

      Maybe he shouldn’t have a gold digging tramp of a girlfriend, then he wouldn’t have to worry about her exposing the truth about him?

      Fact is, the truth of what he is really like hurts the potential profits of the players and the NBA, and they have every right to try and punish him for it.

      Now get back under your rock you blathering idiot

    • jusdre313 - Apr 29, 2014 at 5:14 AM

      you know whats sad about comments like these.. people making excuses for another grown man and pointing the finger and changing the direction of the argument. Obama or anyone else didnt make this coward say that racist crap HE DID.. neither did his gf.. BTW im sure she set him up but SO?

      Hes a owner of a sports team running, which is essense is a company worth hundreds of millions of dollars. If a CEO of a major corporation did the same BS his head would roll too. Stop trying to change the argument, its not about what people say in private, its not about him being old and super rich and its NOT about his gf setting him up. its about a racist POS (who has had an extensive history of this crap) getting exposed for being the bigot that he is

      and lastly for everyone saying oh we have all said things behind closed doors.. absolutely.. but i have NEVER uttered some of the things that that man said about another racce.. u know why? BECAUSE IM NOT RACIST… call a spade a spade already

    • anotheryx - Apr 29, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Wait, you say things like what Sterling said in private? I’m sure majority of people never said or even thought along the lines he did, and that’s a good thing.

  7. azarkhan - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    Al “Tawana” Sharpton has a show on MSNBC and hangs around with Obama, so racism pays. It just depends who you’re talking about and what color they are.

    • theghostofwillisreed - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      keep bringing up the tawana brawley debacle as if you know what you’re talking about…

  8. j0esixpack - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:17 AM

    Sounds like its plausible the NAACP itself may have been aware of this even as they were accepting donations and handing out lifetime achievement awards

    That may be the next shoe to fall

  9. granadafan - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    Owners are reluctant to force other owners out because they fear that their own skeletons could one day come to the surface to maybe force them out of the league.

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