Donald Sterling’s Defense, Ranked in Descending Order of Logic

  • On Tuesday, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sent a letter through his attorney to the NBA that outlined his defense in the fight to keep the team. Sterling had authorized his wife Shelly’s control of the team the previous Thursday, but in the more recent document showed a more contentious response to the league’s lifetime ban, $2.5 million dollar fine and prospective forced sale of the team. No, Sterling doesn’t contest the validity of the tape or challenge the racist statements therein (or denounce/apologize/regret his subsequent interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper where he said that Magic Johnson “should be ashamed of himself” for having AIDS—nevermind that Johnson is HIV positive and doesn’t have full-blown AIDS.)

    Instead, his letter outlines many, many reasons why Adam Silver’s penalty shouldn’t be upheld and… boy are they doozies. To save you the eyerolling involved in reading the full letter, here are Donald Sterling’s reasons why he shouldn’t lose his team, ranked from the most sensible to mind-blowingly ridiculous.

  • He was taped illegally and unknowingly

    Pretty good point there. It’s illegal to record someone without their consent and in California, any audio obtained that way is inadmissible in court. Sterling’s paramour/sound engineer V. Stiviano claims Sterling knew he was being recorded, he says nah.

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  • He only said what he did because a crafty jezebel mind-dazzled him

    A self-made billionaire who amassed a $2 billion fortune (according to Forbes) through savvy and timely real estate purchases, Sterling claims he was prodded into making racist statements, tormented as he was by his lover. According to the letter: “It is beyond dispute to anyone who actually listened to the recording (and not just read the transcript) that Mr. Sterling was distraught—indeed, in tears—during the conversation.”

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  • Sterling's comments < Shaq's joke

    If his comments were, in fact, offensive, Sterling’s letter contends that they weren’t as bad as that time when, “referring to Yao Ming, a player stated (on a television show): “Tell Yao Ming, ‘ching chong yang wah ah soh,'” referring to Shaq’s comments in a 2002 TV interview, for which he was neither fined nor suspended.

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  • Sterling's comments < Kobe's comments

    “If the comments were, in fact, offensive” defense, part deux. Sterling’s maintains that his words still aren’t as bad as that time Kobe called a ref a “fucking f—–” and only got fined $100K.

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  • Sterling's comments about Magic = Harry Belafonte's comments about Jay and Bey

    Regarding telling Anderson Cooper that Magic Johnson hadn’t done anything for minorities, Sterling invoked ye olde, They Can Talk About It But I Can’t? defense and cited Belafonte’s criticism of The Carters’ activism. “The contribution of groups of all races and ethnicities to their communities is an important social issue and is discussed often. For example, when questioned last year about the image of ‘minorities in Hollywood,’ civil rights activist and music legend Harry Belafonte responded: ‘I think one of the great abuses of this modern time is that we should have had such high-profile artists, powerful celebrities. But they have turned their back on social responsibility. That goes for Jay-Z and Beyoncé, for example.'”

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  • Firing Vinny del Negro was a diversity initiative

    “The Commissioner goes through great lengths to outline the NBA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion…but the Commissioner completely spurns and never acknowledges the role of Mr. Sterling in attaining these goals. Indeed, Mr. Sterling recently terminated a Caucasian head coach and traded for an African American head coach who is now among the most highly paid and respected in the league.”

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  • His AIDS comments still weren't as bad as the Orlando Magic owner's comments

    Respected sociologist Richard Lapchick co-wrote a study of how Sterling’s continued ownership would negatively impact the NBA. Sterling thinks that’s bunk because Lapchick serves on the board of the DeVos Sport Business Management Program, a program founded by Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos. “In view of this fact, it cannot be seriously contended that this ‘report’ is neutral. Moreover, as discussed below, Mr. DeVos has made highly controversial comments against individuals with HIV/AIDS and generously supports anti-homosexual causes with impunity.”

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  • It's just not fair

    The heart of Sterling’s defense is that there’s been no precedent for a penalty as harsh. The document asserts that, “In the past, the NBA has either punished offensive speech with a modest fine or ignored it,” and goes on to list a number of times that members of the labor force of the NBA have made offensive statements and been fined less than Sterling, a multi-billionaire owner with the power and wherewithal to actually implement his views.

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