Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a huge jackass. This isn’t news to anyone who has been following the Clippers organization for the last week, or the last decade— it definitely isn’t news to Elgin Baylor or Baron Davis. Nevertheless, after TMZ leaked the phone conversation Sterling had with girlfriend V. Stiviano, his ignorance became national news. On Sunday’s Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers’ players took off their shooting shirts, which are emblazoned with the team’s logo, in protest of his racist remarks. People are requesting that the NBA take the team away from Donald Sterling. Furthermore, this isn’t the first instance where his bigotry has been a major issue.
Unfortunately, on top of being a bigot, he’s also an NBA owner, and in reading recent coverage of the Sterling incident, there are also mumblings of other dirty laundry in the NBA owner circle. If you look closely, many NBA owners engage in questionable behavior both in their personal and professional lives– Donald Sterling’s unmasked racism is just the tip of the iceberg.
Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos is a noted homophobe who has actively campaigned against equal rights for gay Americans. In an interview with Grand Rapids Press DeVos said, “Marriage is not vital to them [homosexuals] in my opinion. They’ve made it a vital issue because they want to.” In 2008 DeVos gave $100,000 to an organization called Florida4Marriage (they have since changed their name to Strong Marriages Florida) to support a Florida state constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. The anti-gay legislation passed largely due to his $100,000 donation. In fact, his donation made up 15% of the organization’s funding.
His 2008 donation was a follow up to his donation in 2006 via his Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation of $540,000 to Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family is another anti-gay organization, their website reads, “As Christians, we may feel unsure how to articulate “why” biblical marriage is important and “why” kids need both a mom and a dad. Yet we know God’s design for family works! When we deviate from that design, society suffers. But when we embrace it, society thrives.” Dan DeVos’ efforts in the fight against marriage equality are consistent and well documented. However, he remains an Orlando Magic owner.
Another NBA owner with dubious interests is Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert known for his shady financial alignments. He was one of the founders of Quicken Loans, a major player in the subprime mortgage crisis that derailed the American economy by passing their shady loans along to homebuyers via Countrywide.
Dan Gilbert’s company worked closely with Countrywide as the front end originator of loans. Quicken would then move those loans to Countrywide (in many instances the borrowers didn’t even know their debt was being transferred) and then they put those loans into the shaky derivates market. Once those loans were turned over to Countrywide, Gilbert was able to completely disassociate himself from any of the subprime mess. However, analysts have affirmed his involvement. Steve Dibert of Mortgage Fraud Investigation-Miami stated, “Quicken was able to escape the carnage and tarnished images of the financial crisis. It’s not necessarily because they were “one of the good guys” as Dan Gilbert claims but because they didn’t carry any liability from the loans they originated.”
Sadly, this trend hits close to home as well, as Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is no stranger to controversy. Back in January of 2007 Prokhorov and a few friends flew his private jet to French resort town Courchevel to celebrate the Russian Orthodox New Year. Prokhorov also brought along eight prostitutes for the flight. After three days of paid pleasure, French police came in and arrested Prokohorov on suspicion of importing prostitutes.
Although he claimed the women were just models, Prokhorov spent four days in jail before he was released. All of the charges were dropped, but it’s clear that bringing eight “models” across country lines was a debatable decision at best.
Basically, the questionable actions, practices, and opinions of NBA team owners is nothing new. It’s not like we didn’t know Donald Sterling was a massive racist before, and it’s not like we don’t know there are other people like him working in other front offices, too. The only difference now is that the Clippers are likely to lose some sponsors, and rightfully so. But not because he’s a racist, we already knew that. It’s solely because it’s front page news right now.
So grab your pitchforks (or just jump on Twitter), we’re not going to hate you for that. Just know that Sterling isn’t alone, and there’s a lot more going on than shadily recorded conversations that are leaked via TMZ.