Los Angeles Clippers Not Standing for Justice
Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Staff Reporter
OAKLAND, CA. – The recent conclusion of the NBA Finals, followed by the church shooting the next day in Charleston, S.C., recalls the previous basketball season and what the Los Angeles Clippers could have done then for racial justice and equality, but did not. The issue then was the Clippers past owner Donald Sterling making recorded racial statements to his gal-pal V. Stiviano. The team that wears red, white, and blue could have been in the historical record books fighting against racism and bigotry. Instead, personal finances became more important than civil rights. Money became more important than racial justice. The modern athlete carefully picks his/her words and his/her actions because it could affect his/her sports career.
On April 27, 2014 the team made a political and social decision. The Los Angeles Clippers could have made a powerful political statement to America that night, The battle for racial justice sometimes requires making critical sacrifices. This organization was not willing to make those sacrifices.
The Clippers gathered at center court before a 118-97 Game 4 loss in their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors and took off their Clippers warm-up shirts and left them there. They then warmed up wearing inside-out red shooting shirts that did not display the Clippers name or logo. During the game, players wore black arm or wrist bands and black socks. But they continued to play the game. They could have, and should have, walked off the court, refusing to play for Sterling, perhaps forfeiting the game, forfeiting a pay check, sending shock waves through the economics of the NBA and its commercial sponsors, but sending a message.
In 1968 John Carlos and Tommy Smith lead the way with their fist in the air and no shoes on the podium. The Black Power Salute sent shock waves at the 68′ Mexico Summer Games. Carlos and Smith made that sacrifice to tell the world about the poor conditions of Black people in the United States.
African Americans would have honored this team in Hollywood 40, 50, or 60 years from now if they too made that sacrifice. Instead this team will be just a footnote in National Basketball history.
The firebrand athlete of the 1960’s and 1970’s are gone but not forgotten. Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar pulled no punches. As the late sportscaster Howard Cosell stated many times “Tell it like it is”.
The Los Angeles Clippers could have boycotted game four in Oakland, California. They had the support of the Golden State Warriors players and staff along with the Portland Trailblazers organization who were playing another game in Oregon. The Los Angeles Clippers could have walked off the court to send a message to (ABC) The American Broadcasting Company and (ESPN) The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. It did not happen and ABC, ESPN, and their advertisers went on their merry way, cashing in on their profits.
During a 45-minute team meeting on Saturday, Clippers player voiced their anger about the tape and discussed various options of protest, including boycotting the game.
The Clippers went on to beat the young Golden State Warriors four games to three but the die was cast that night for the Los Angeles Clippers. The hearts and minds of the Clippers Black players lay on the floor of Oracle Arena and their championship aspirations as well. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder ended the Clips season in six games.
In the 2014-2015 season the Los Angeles Clippers were the favored team to win the Western Conference. This year, the Clippers beat the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoff in a seven game thriller but lost the next round to the undermanned Houston Rockets and James Harden. This Clipper team had no heart last season, and continued to be infected this year.
I hardly ever agree with Charles Barkley, “The Round Mound of Rebound”, but this time he was right on point: “If somebody wants to be racist, that’s all right. That’s their thing, but when you’re in a position of power and you can take jobs and economic opportunity from people that’s what crosses the line.”
Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald Sterling had the ears of young America, and the NBA along with ESPN did not mute that voice until it was too late. ESPN’s reporter Bomani Jones stated: Donald Sterling has long been a practitioner of racism and the NBA could not have cared less. Jones is rightfully apoplectic at the present response. That is because he understands that the NBA, its players and its fans, don’t so much object to Donald Sterling’s racism—they object to his want of elegance.
Sports, politics, and race will continue to cross paths as Jessie Owens proved in the Berlin Summer Games in 1936 under the banners of the Hitler Régime. Sports can be a conduit to improve race relations in the United States as men women and children work together to win championships. What happened in Los Angeles a year ago and what happened in Charleston, South Carolina last week proves that we have work to do.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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