Racism in the NBA

With news of Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s alleged racist remarks comes a new firestorm whether or not racism is still alive in the NBA.

Sterling himself has denied being a racist and the Clippers organization has officially denied Sterling’s potential racism as well. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has made his own comments in response to the whole situation in a very professional manner.

Rivers navigated the media firestorm as savvy as any other coach in the league could have in this situation. When asked about potential protests and his personal feelings towards the owner in this turbulent time, Rivers responded reasonably stating that it was just a distraction for now during a time the team was hoping to avoid distractions. Until the proper processes take place, Rivers plans on continuing to do his job.

Other responses around the NBA community have been less kind, if that is how one could describe Rivers’ statement, to Sterling. Magic Johnson himself claimed he would not frequent any more Clippers games as long as Sterling is the owner.

Others, like former Clippers guard Baron Davis took a tone less sympathetic, outraged or shocked. Davis’ comments appeared to give off a tone as if he wanted to say “I dealt with this and no one cared. Now it is your turn”.

If Davis was right, and this has been an ongoing occurrence in the Clippers franchise, the question now is how it has not been exposed until now. Perhaps the general atmosphere in the NBA has gotten so desensitized to locker room and courtside racism that it takes an audio submission to TMZ for people to recognize it.

Still though, some of these claims coming out are so ridiculous that if they are true one has to wonder why no one did anything about it until now. Especially Davis’ comments from a 2012 New York Post interview, in which he claimed that Sterling’s behavior toward him on the team made it the lowest point of his NBA career.

What will come of this uproar and Sterling’s future is still unclear. Equally unclear is who else in the NBA shares his alleged feelings and beliefs. Much like the Richie Incognito scandal that hit the NFL last year, this one will hopefully reignite a much needed discussion about racism in professional sports.

Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.