I guess the PC sports press was hoping for a high-tech lyching of sorts, wherein Donald Sterling, the owner in limbo who is soon to be former owner of the National Basketall Association's Los Angeles Clippers, would be frog-marched out of his office and dumped onto Skid Row, never to be heard from again, for his undeniably racist remarks to his now ex-girlfriend about how he didn't want her bringing blacks to Clippers games while directing racial invective at other specific persons.
It's not working out that way. In fact, quite the opposite. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is reportedly paying $2 billion for the Clippers. That's quite a windfall for Sterling, considering that he apparently paid about $12.5 million for the team in the early 1980s and that the team was valued at about $575 million in the most recent related edition of Forbes. At Huffington Post and ESPN, Earl Ofari Hutchinson and Scoop Jackson, respectively, are almost beside themselves.
I'll start with Hutchinson (at left above), since his output appears to have been closer to a stream-of consciousness rant. That's not surprising, given that he has a established history of race-baiting, and is "a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network." Presumably, this means that he has no interest in impoverishing his boss Sharpton for a career filled with particularly hostile and violence-inspiring racism which would possibly even make Sterling blush (bolds are mine thoughout this post):
Sterling's Racism Does Indeed Pay to the Tune of $2 Billion
The conventional wisdom is that former Microsoft tycoon Steve Ballmer agreeing to pay the ridiculous, wildly over-priced price for the L.A. Clippers is a small price to pay to get rid of Donald Sterling, a racist embarrassment to L.A., the fans and the NBA. The brutal truth though is far different. Sterling, and wife Shelly, made out far better than any bandit could hope to in their wildest dreams with the announced sale of the team. Worse, the sale price sent the horrid message that bigotry can have its own rewards. The Sterlings in essence cashed in on his well-documented and her almost as well-documented bigotry the same way that undeserving corporate CEOs receive gargantuan shove out the door paychecks after they send their firm's stock price plunging, watched as sales nose-dived, and made a wreck of management.
... The Clippers are a near textbook example of how its owner can be a racist, his business can be flawed and failed, and he and it can still prosper and thrive. Since he bought the then San Diego Clippers in 1981, he instantly became embedded in the NBA structure. Despite a half-hearted effort by NBA officials to get rid of him in the early days of his ownership for questionable practices, by dint of his longevity and a team ownership structure that confers unassailable, emperor-like powers on those who own the teams he continued to reap financial rewards.
Sterling was smug in the assurance that no matter how outrageous, bigoted, and sleazy his antics he would be assured a big pay day if the day ever came he'd have to bail out of team ownership. This was not guesswork. Before his racist rant, the low-side estimate on the Clippers' value on an open-market sale was $575 million. The high side was $700 million. The truth was that no one really knew what the franchise would ultimately go for. This was Sterling's one big trump card. He could set any price he wanted as long as the market would bear it.
Ah, yes. That damned "market." Willing buyer, unwilling seller, but one who presumably had other offers.
Hutchinson's too full of anger to realize that it's a win-win. Yes, Donald Sterling gets a lot of cash — presumably after splitting it with his wife (or it ex-wife? Sorry, I'm not up on my "celebrity" headlines). But the NBA gets rid of a throbbing headache, and perhaps gets a team which can better focus next year on becoming a Finals contender, changing what has become a somewhat predictable Finals mix.
As to Mr. Hutchinson's concern about racism, we didn't need Donald Sterling to demonstrate that racism pays. We've had race hustlers like Jesss Jackson and Hutchinson's boss Al Sharpton doing that for about four decades. I cannot emphasize enough that until he is ready to denounce his boss and calls for Sharpton to divest himself of his broadcast holdings and employment, Mr. Hutchinson has absolutely no legitimate standing to criticize Donald Sterling.
Over at ESPN, Scoop Jackson acts as if he hasn't been following the outlandish valuations of professional sports teams which have actually changed hands during the past several years:
The value of racism
Those who called for Sterling's removal never expected a billion-dollar windfall
How sad is this?
A man gets publicly exposed for being a transparent racist and is universally vilified on every media and social platform known to man. He is forced out of the NBA by a commissioner who seemed to take unbridled pride in initiating the process of removing the owner from the league. The man then seemingly makes a larger fool of himself by refusing to defer to the hate surrounding him (that his hate produced), and now is on the verge of being rewarded with one of the largest windfalls in professional sports history.
The Los Angeles Clippers, the same team that just six months ago Forbes valued at $575 million (13th on the NBA Team Valuation list), now has an offer for almost four times the worth of its January value (which is also four times higher than the most money ever exchanged for an NBA franchise). All because of the recent attention to Donald Sterling's racist comments and a deadline set on when controlling interest of the team would be lost.
And they say racism has no value -- or place -- in America.
On the surface there's almost no other way to look at this.
Uh, yes there is, Scoop, old buddy old pal.
Donald Sterling has had possession of a very valuable asset. He's on the verge of converting it to cash. Technically, his net worth hasn't increased by a dime. We just didn't realize that the Clippers franchise was so darned valuable (nor I'm sure did he). The idea that Ballmer is paying some kind of "racism premium," as Jackson implies, is just dumb.
But Sterling's net worth will go down after the tax man gets done with him (and his wife/ex-wife). He'll pay a lot in taxes. Those taxes, to the extent they aren't wasted by a federal and state government which have demonstrated tremendous proclivity for doing so, will go to fund police, fire, and other salaries; social programs, public education; and probably, by the time all is said and done, given the race-baiting industry's ability to access federal money, outfits like Sharpton's National Action Network. Those taxes would never have materialized if Donald Sterling hadn't opened his racist trap and been caught on tape doing so.
See Scoop, it's win-win. Savor the moment. If you can't, just deal with it.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.