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Shelly Sterling: NBA is sexist

May 13, 2014, 9:22 AM EDT

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Following Donald Sterling’s CNN interview, Shelly Sterling appeared on the Today show with Savannah Guthrie Tuesday. It did not go as poorly as her husband’s interview, but it was certainly not endearing. Let’s go point by point using key excerpts from Scott Stump’s transcription from

“I’m very angry. And I’m very hurt. And I even cried listening to that, because I just feel bad,” she told Guthrie in a sit-down that aired Tuesday on TODAY. “And then I feel bad. Why am I the victim when he’s the perpetrator? If somebody killed somebody, does the wife have to stand trial too?”

False equivalency. In the United States, no, collective punishment is not allowed in criminal court.

But Shelly is not standing trial!

The NBA is in the process of removing the owner of one of its teams, and if the league’s interpretation of its rules is correct, it can remove all owners of that team. This is not a court of law. This is a private business exercising its right to operate.

Shelly goes on to discuss Donald’s comments on Magic Johnson (which Adam Silver apologized for on behalf of the NBA).

“I never understood what he was talking about,” Shelly told Guthrie after watching the interview. “And why would he bring Magic Johnson into the issue about what’s happening now? I mean, that’s why I felt pity because he couldn’t get all the dots together. He couldn’t connect the dots.”

“He’s not the man I know, or I knew,” she said. “There’s something wrong. I really think, personally, he has dementia.

“I don’t think it happened overnight. I think it’s been happening, but nobody really knew the reason. I mean, he gets crazy, and yells, and screams, and hollers one moment. The next moment he’ll…talk about something else. I mean it’s like nothing makes sense.”

Guthrie noted that while dementia may make people delusional or nonsensical, it doesn’t necessarily make them say racist things.

“I don’t make excuses for anybody,” she said, admitting that she doesn’t know much about dementia.

Anderson Cooper, who interviewed Donald, said he saw no signs of dementia during their interview. Cooper said Sterling repeatedly referred to previous questions when there were more points he wanted to make before jumping back to the current question. To be fair, Cooper is not trained to diagnose dementia and an hour-or-so-long sample is not necessarily representative.

And Shelly’s answer at least explains how she can both condemn her husband’s statements on the recording and scream he’s not racist.

My question for Shelly, though: When did she first believe Donald had dementia?

Was it before or after he was sued in 2003 for allegedly saying “That’s because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean. And it’s because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day”?

Was it before or after he was sued in 1996 for allegedly ordering one of his employees to find him “someone who will, you know, let me put it in or who [will] suck on it”?

Was it before or after he allegedly said, “I wanna know why you think you can coach these niggers” to Rollie Massimino in 1983?

Sterling believes the NBA’s attempts to push her out amount to sexism.

“I really think so,” she said. “Would an owner’s wife say the same thing, and would the owner be asked to leave the NBA? Or would they just say, ‘Well, she’s only the wife.”’

If an owner’s wife said the same things, of course an owner would not be asked to leave the NBA. But if a woman had controlling interest in a team and her husband said the same things, she would not be asked to leave the NBA.

Is there some institutional sexism occurring because a disproportionate number of NBA owners are men? Perhaps, and that’s worth exploring.

This case gets clouded, though, due the perception Shelly and Donald are working together.

Still, Sterling agrees with the NBA’s decision to force her husband to sell the team.

“I think I agree with what…their decision is,” she said. “I don’t agree what their decision is for me. I wholly feel that I’ve done nothing wrong.”

Well, there are the times you allegedly posed as a health inspector to investigate the race of your husband’s tenants. There is also the time you allegedly called a tenant a “black m—f.”  And the time you allegedly called Latinos “filthy.”

Even the fans and team members, she said, have her back.

“Well, I went to the game about two days ago,” she said. “I was sitting up in the box. All the fans right below me were high-fiving me, saying, ‘Go girl. Don’t give up.’ I talked to some of the players. They hugged me.”

Shelly’s supporters included Doc Rivers, and then he learned more about her. If these high-fiving fans and hugging players – should they actually exist – learn more, they might change their tune, too.

  1. asimonetti88 - May 13, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    now we know why they avoided the media for so long

    • RavenzGunnerz - May 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      “This league that i love and cherish, with wonderful players who hug me and high five me all the time is Sexist!”.

      At this point, If I were their lawyer, I would just tell them to zip it.

  2. therealhtj - May 13, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    I really can’t understand why they’d divorce – they seem perfect for one another.

    • bougin89 - May 13, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      It’s clearly not a marriage based on love, affection, religious values, etc. It’s basically a business partnership at this point and has been for probably decades.

    • RavenzGunnerz - May 13, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      do you really think two haters can live with each other? no way.

  3. nicofthenorthstar - May 13, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Meanwhile the NFLer who called the Latino family “wetbacks” and threatened to beat them with brass knuckles gets a pass in the media. Any guesses why, folks?

    • kavika6 - May 14, 2014 at 5:10 AM


  4. mondzy805 - May 13, 2014 at 9:38 AM

    Can somebody tell me, who still supports this Lady or her Family? I went to 2 playoffs games, including Game 5 against the Warriors. Nobody cheered for the Sterling family. Nobody.

    • reesesteel23 - May 13, 2014 at 9:43 AM

      Only the few Sterling apologist left on this site.

  5. karlton3 - May 13, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Doesn’t it seem inevitable for one of the Sterlings to say that they are part African American and therefore not racist (or some other comment resembling that)?

    • asimonetti88 - May 13, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      “I have black friends”

  6. sabatimus - May 13, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    Johnny Lawrence to John Creese: “You’re really sick, man.”

  7. timb12 - May 13, 2014 at 10:07 AM

    Uh oh. You hear that NBA? The tables have been turned! The hunter has become the hunted! You big ol bunch of sexists!

    It’s kind of sad to see them grasping for straws and just digging themselves deeper.

  8. smcgaels1997 - May 13, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Jesse just make them go away….

  9. RavenzGunnerz - May 13, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    I really feel for CP3 and BG who had their best chance of glad at the trophy at least, to be dragged into this mess. I mean, it’s hard enough to contain Durant… oh wait…

  10. Bob Loblaw - May 13, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Remember the NBA slogan…”NBA Action…it’s FAAAAAANTASTIC” The new one should be “NBA Hypocrisy….it’s FAAAAAAANTASTIC!!”

  11. mblue24 - May 13, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Fights for your rights Sterlings. Don’t let the NBA bully you around. You was set up by MJ. Silver must go. He is on this just like MJ. #boycottnba

    • fanofthegame79 - May 13, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      How about #boycottmblue24

      • au1978 - May 13, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        I’m down for that.

    • hwatt - May 13, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      and the South will rise again.

  12. ProBasketballPundit - May 13, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    I hate these people. I’d have a lot more respect for them if they stood by their actions and comments. They’re explanations & excuses are an assault on the rational mind.

  13. spursareold - May 13, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    It’s not about husbands and wives. ANY other part owner will have his/her shares sold out from under. The NBA will sell 100% of the Clippers.

  14. void96eater - May 13, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    This is just comical now.

  15. pack93z - May 13, 2014 at 10:39 AM

    A couple of things I took from the last day or two of this nonsense.

    1. Whether it is dementia or some other ailment.. just listening to Donald Sterling it certainly sounds like a person that is not fully coherent to what is going on around him. Thoughts ran together.. muttering and slurring words.. just sounded off.

    2. I would think if there is something wrong with Donald, the best thing for the family may be to let the franchise go, sell it for the 800+ Million I am sure the franchise will return and move on with treating his ailment.

    3. While your team is trying to advance in the playoffs.. issue the standard statement and advise that the rest will be discussed at a later time. Avoid the distraction to the club and put together a proper PR plan for the short and long term. Not continuing to dig yourselves further into the mire.

    What a quagmire this has become as the Clippers resurrection of a franchise was really taking hold.

    • Bob Loblaw - May 13, 2014 at 2:59 PM

      Why should the family sell the team and pay hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes when they can fight and wait for the old man to die, then pay nothing? The NBA did nothing for decades and now they have a private conversation caught on tape and they want to force the family to sell the team? Hogwash. He’s banned. Goodbye and good riddance to the piece of trash. The team doesn’t need to be sold, except the players are trying to assert their authority. They will never have to deal with the guy again as he, again, is banned from the league.

      NBA is posturing plain and simple. Shame on them for not doing something about this 20 years ago when the guy truly showed his racist stripes.

  16. calkinsrob - May 13, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Im just waiting for someone to call her out on HER history. Shes just as racist as her husband. Sexist my ass. get the hell out of here

  17. pack93z - May 13, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    And just to be clear.. even with an ailment.. Donald’s true colors seem to be bleeding through. And the victim that is Shelley Sterling is she certainly didn’t object to amassing their fortunes off the slums that they developed into an empire. Certainly seems like they can’t tell the forest from the trees in their “faces” and their true beliefs.

    Examples of the old school thought process of some in terms of racial and economic differences.

  18. spursareold - May 13, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    The only thing wrong with Donald Sterling is that he has “I’ve got cancer and DGAF any more about keeping up appearances” syndrome.

  19. psly2124 - May 13, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Wow she said black m-f. So every time a black says white m-f they will be kicked out of the league. It goes both ways. There would not be a league within the year.

  20. nbarber2013 - May 13, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    She should probly just shut her mouth, and go get some more plastic surgery done. My god this woman looks jacked up!

  21. jbaxt - May 13, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    Who cares about the nba and the 5 step traveling rules? Boring!

    • irvness21 - May 13, 2014 at 12:36 PM

      You!!! u posted that comment on a NBA blog site.

  22. thegonz13 - May 13, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    Oh man, late night talk show hosts are going to have material for months with those two…

    • hwatt - May 13, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      I’m tellin you, this is the EASIEST week SNL is going to have all year. They’re probably all on mini-vacations. Cuz all they have to do to prepare is simply repeat

  23. gs7101 - May 13, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    It’s outrageous that Shelly Sterling is suggesting her husband is suffering from dementia. The only thing Donald Sterling has is selective amnesia. He can clearly remember things about Magic Johnson that happened over 20 years ago, but can’t remember saying racist comments he made recently. The Sterling’s are now getting a little taste of how it feels to be excluded!

  24. 1harrypairatesties - May 13, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Woman please stop talking. You’re making my p*nis soft. -Dave Chappelle

    • ranfan12 - May 13, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      the world would be a better place if dave was still on tv 😦

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