It all started when his girlfriend/mistress, V. Staviano, recorded a private conversation she was having with Sterling. For me it was more weird than offensive. I felt like I was listening to teengers talk with their weird sentence fragments. Throughout the whole snippet it sounds like she is baiting him to talk about how he feels about black people. He goes on about how he wishes she wouldn't pose with black people in her Instagram pics. Sterling even commands that she not bring black people to his games including Magic Johnson.
Because of these comments and other not so great comments about minorities, there has been pressure on the NBA to do something. Saturday night before the Clippers played, they threw their jackets on the court and wore their practice Clippers shirts inside out in protest. Other owners including Micheal Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats have spoken out against Donald Sterling. Tuesday, NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, announced that Sterling has been banned from all NBA games and will be fined $2.5 million (even though to him this is pocket change).
As much Sterling's comments disgust me, I couldn't help but feel a certain way about this situation. This whole thing started because the girlfriend was taping their private conversation. She claims that he wanted her to tape their conversations because he was forgetting things. Now I'm not trying to debate the 1st Amendment. I get it, you have freedom of speech but not freedom of consequence. However, Sterling wasn't speaking at a Clippers game, charity dinner, or staff meeting. I have yet to read about him being racist in the workplace. He was having what he thought was a conversation between him and his girlfriend. I ask you, what would people say about you if they heard a recording of your last private conversation?
Let's be real, when we are around our friends or significant others we tend to get comfortable. We're most definitely not as politically correct as we are when we're in a public setting. We let our hair down and whatever comes out, comes out. We're certainly not thinking that someone might be recording the whole conversation to later use it against us. As Kareem Abdul-Jabaar brings out in his column on Time.com:
"Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen’s privacy in such an un-American way?"I couldn't agree with Mr. Kareem more. The American people were offended by the NSA having access to their phone records but haven't said boo about the fact the we are listening to a taping of a private conversation. I'm really confused by the logic here.
Let's also talk about how we got a recording of the tape. It "leaked"? How do people's personal tapes keep mysteriously leaking (Mimi, I'm looking at you)? I have to give a blood sample when I get locked out of my Gmail account yet these people can't keep their private tapes under wrap. Now I could understand if this was Kim Kardashian with all her high profile relationships, but who is this girl? Was she somebody before this? Was she so high in demand that someone hacked her information to see what juicy news she was hiding? I doubt it.
I'm not disagreeing with Adam Silver's decision to ban Donald Sterling. I just think this situation is bigger than a rich bigot. As bad as his comments were, let's reflect on what we talk about privately before we wag our fingers at others.