It was a story that was slow to ramp up, but as the story about Donald Sterling’s alleged racist comments to his girlfriend gained legs, the reaction by the sports networks was slower than on social media. TMZ broke the story early Saturday morning and Deadspin quickly jumped on it soon afterwards.
TNT did not mention the Sterling story in its pregame show, but did broach the subject during halftime of the Indiana-Atlanta game. Some very strong statements especially Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith as transcribed by Turner Sports.
Charles Barkley: “You can believe [it] because it’s happened before. He settled a lawsuit years ago – he owns a lot of land – and he settled a lawsuit that said he was discriminating against blacks and Hispanics so this is habitual…first of all, they have to prove that that’s his voice on the tape. This is the first test for Adam Silver because you can’t have this guy making statements like that…[if it ‘a him on the recording] he has to suspend and fine him immediately.”
Kenny Smith: “Racism is a refuge for ignorance. There are two things we can take from this — he’s taking his primitive thought process and saying that he can work with you or you can work for me but I can’t associate with you…for me it’s a teaching tool for the new generation. The new generation of players, the new educated, the new wealth of African Americans can take this from an educational standpoint and say, ‘How do you deal with people like this who still have this Jim Crow thought process?’ But he has to be suspended…I can understand people who won’t support the Clippers at this point. He is the voice [of the Clippers] and he’s taken the ownership of a team a little too seriously.”
Barkley: “This is a Donald Sterling thing…not a Clippers thing. You have to separate the two. You have to think about Doc [Rivers], Blake [Griffin] and Chris Paul, that’s their team. He owns the team but we’re not thinking about who owns the team as a player. We don’t care about who owns the team.”
Smith: “You are a professional and you have a God-given craft and you must continue to do that craft to the best of your ability and knowledge. But when it comes time to re-sign with the team, they might be a team that you have second thoughts about playing for.”
Here’s the video of the halftime segment.
This is a story that has suddenly dominated the NBA Playoffs and will most likely transcend sports starting on Monday. As usual, we’ll keep track of the coverage for you.