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In latest alleged recording, Donald Sterling denies being a racist, says league can’t force him to sell

May 8, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT

Donald Sterling Donald Sterling

Nobody thinks of themselves as a bad person. Even most people we would all agree are bad people don’t view themselves that way. Our ability as humans to compartmentalize and rationalize knows almost no limit. We can convince ourselves of anything.

So of course Donald Sterling doesn’t see himself as a racist.

And of course, as the league expects, he is going to fight the league forcing the sale of his team.

Another recording allegedly of Sterling has been released by Radar Online, one recorded since the scandal broke. In this one, allegedly taped by a long time friend of his, Sterling vacillates between sounding heartbroken and defiant anger.

Here are a few selected highlight quotes. Remember he is addressing a long-time friend who reportedly taped the conversation (some friend he’s got).

• “You think I’m a racist? You think I have anything in the world but love for everybody? You don’t think that! You know I’m not a racist.”

• “I mean, how could you think I’m a racist knowing me all these years? How can you be in this business and be a racist? Do you think I tell the coach to get white players? Or to get the best player he can get?”

• “You can’t force someone to sell property in America.”

• “I grew up in East L.A…. I was the president of the high school there. I mean, and I’m a Jew! And 50% of the people there were black and 40% were hispanic.… So I mean, people must have a good feeling for me.”

• “It breaks my heart that Magic Johnson, a guy that I respect so much, wouldn’t stand up and say, ‘Well let’s get the facts. Let’s get him and talk to him.’ Nobody tried. Nobody!”

I want to make two things clear. First, Sterling has turned down requests to tell “his side of the story” to multiple media outlets. If he wanted to “get the facts” out there he could. Second, a long history of court documents — and a federal lawsuit settlement (in which he had to admit no wrongdoing) — point to a man using his power to limit opportunities, evict and otherwise change the lives of people based on the color of their skin and his perception of them. That pretty much defines racism. That’s not even getting to Elgin Baylor’s lengthy list of stories when he was GM, like bringing his female “friends” into the locker room to admire the “beautiful black bodies” of his players.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver came down on Sterling after the leaking of a previous recording with a lifetime ban from the game, a $2.5 million fine, and the promise that the league would force him to sell the franchise. The league has already started steps on its end to have charges presented and eventually have the other owners vote on Sterling’s ownership. In addition, they have removed Sterling’s long-time friend and team president Andy Roeser and will appoint a new CEO to run the franchise.

Does this new tape hint at a future legal strategy in court by Sterling to block all this? SI’s legal expert Michael McCann thinks maybe.

On another front, Sterling’s long-time wife Shelly has said she wants to maintain control of the team, that what her estranged husband has said and done should not impact her. Under California law she does own half the team, something sources confirm.

If you don’t think this a coordinated effort, that she is serving as his proxy, you are naive. Both of them have for years tried to bully opponents through the courts and had great success, their modus operandi will not change now. The league is not falling for it, Adam Silver has said the team cannot remain in the hands of the Sterling family.

Sterling is battling cancer but his strategy here clearly seems to be to make this uncomfortable for the NBA to fight, to at the very least drag out this process. Maybe he thinks he can win. Either way it is going to get ugly.

That will be bad for all things Clippers. And the NBA. But the Sterlings care more about their egos.


  1. glenuendo - May 8, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    These guys may actually make LA forget the McCourt’s.

    • dablakdrphil - May 8, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      I will not lie, I completely forgot about the McCourts until I read your comment!!

  2. LilTmac2003 - May 8, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    I don’t know if he’s truly a racist or not, but I do know one thing…

    …people be recording way too many of his conversations.

    • apkyletexas - May 8, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      Dude needs to seriously shut the old pie hole. For good.

    • fanofthegame79 - May 8, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      Totally agree. Although, all signs (both recorded and court documents) show that Sterling probably does have race issues. However, this recording by his “friend” was absolutely planned. He said all the right things all while not “knowing” he was being recorded again? I’m sorry, this one seems a little too convenient.

    • anotheryx - May 8, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      There are reports of Sterling himself asked people around him to record him, since he forget things he said and want to “revisit” them, presumably not on TV or on the internet.

  3. term3186 - May 8, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    The whole ‘can’t force someone to sell property in America’ shtick is getting old. If you don’t want the possibility of others forcing you to sell, then DON’T SIGN A CONTRACT THAT INCLUDES THAT POSSIBILITY. It isn’t terribly complicated.

    • eugenesaxe1 - May 8, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      “The whole ‘can’t force someone to sell property in America’ shtick is getting old. ”

      It’s also incorrect, if my understanding of eminent domain is correct. Not that it applies here, but he should know better.

  4. jburk003 - May 8, 2014 at 1:54 PM

    He doesnt need to shut up. He needs to get smart.

    Even d-bag celebrities like Justin Bieber know how to adequately keep people from talking.

    1. Sign confidentiality agreements between whomever you have into your home, that nothing spoken between the two parties can be shared

    2. Hire security to make sure your guests are not bringing in Cell phones and recorders (yes, it is legal to do so)

    This idiot is smart enough, and rich enough, to do either or both of those. You may lose some “friends”, but those are the friends that are next to sell you out anyways.

    • hwatt - May 8, 2014 at 2:03 PM

      all the quotes are kinda in his favor. He’s savvy enough to orchestrate the whole thing. I’m not a supporter, but I am saying not every ‘leak’ that’s ever been released has always been done w/o strategy from the top.

  5. doug2626 - May 8, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    This was set up by old Donald.

  6. heat256 - May 8, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Let him keep the team. Have all his players’ contracts voided, making them free agents. Strip them of first round picks for the next 3-5 years. Let’s see who is really interested in playing there for him.

    • jimeejohnson - May 8, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      CantonBound won’t admit he’s a pea brain.

  7. bigsuede - May 8, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    WHAT??? You can’t force someone to sell property in the US??? Has this guy not heard of partition sales? Imminent Domain? Partnership law frequently requires the other partner to sell. Or in a simple divorce- sales get forced to split up the community property.

    This guy is a lawyer? It is crazy how stupid some wealthy people can be.

  8. azarkhan - May 8, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    This story is so old it smells. Has Mike Florio taken over the basketball section of this site? He loves to beat dead horses.

  9. eugenesaxe1 - May 8, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    This guy has more tapes floating around than Nixon and Whordashian combined.

    • ephraimf - May 8, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      I gave the thumbs up for the Whordashian reference.

      • eugenesaxe1 - May 8, 2014 at 9:13 PM


  10. ephraimf - May 8, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    The guy is a pig in business and in life, but if every idiot in America was forced to sell their business, there wouldn’t be enough buyers to buy them all.

  11. au1978 - May 8, 2014 at 3:26 PM

    I was just telling my staff today (I work in a political office) that we live in a different world with camera phones and social media, so if you don’t want what you say or do to be on the front page of some website, don’t do or say it. Period.

    • brookwell2013 - May 8, 2014 at 5:36 PM

      Well said au1978…….almost every person in the US has a smartphone and everything seems to be recorded by one of those phones……..Sterling is just a flat out knucklehead……all these thumbs down on this site are highly suspicious, I haven’t met or spoken to a single person that is defending Sterling or that is critical of what the League and the players want.

    • anonymous135 - May 8, 2014 at 8:01 PM

      I live my life that way… keeps me honest

  12. david407 - May 8, 2014 at 3:35 PM

    Omfg who cares

    • jimeejohnson - May 8, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      Girly girl: “Oh my f+ckin God!”

  13. ProBasketballPundit - May 8, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    I’m a bad person. I have the criminal record to prove it.

    • jimeejohnson - May 8, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      You and Pee Wee Herman: just don’t do it in movie theatres, again.

      • asimonetti88 - May 8, 2014 at 6:55 PM

        lol. Haven’t seen a good Pee Wee reference in a while.

  14. beach305 - May 8, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    “Our ability as humans to compartmentalize and rationalize knows almost no limit. We can convince ourselves of anything.”

    This is so true in politics.

  15. mackcarrington - May 8, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    He doesn’t want Magic Johnson at “his games”, and now he’s disappointed that Magic doesn’t stick up for him?

    • 00millerfortune - May 8, 2014 at 11:09 PM

      You can’t make this stuff up lol

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