Reports that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is something of a racist isn't exactly breaking news for anyone who's followed the NBA team at all closely over the past several decades, so why was it treated as such?
ESPN host Bomani Jones is very familiar with Sterling's history of racism. Back in 2006, the sports writer and pundit wrote a column titled "Sterling's racism should be news" following the Department of Justice suing Sterling for housing discrimination. Sterling allegedly refused to rent apartments he owned to African Americans, Latinos and people with children in the suit and, though he denied the charges, agreed to a settlement of $2.765 million in 2009. A separate housing discrimination lawsuit dates back to 2003.
On the Miami-based Dan Le Batard Show on Monday, Jones launched into an impassioned 10-minute speech addressing why, despite allegations of Sterling's racism being well documented for decades, the story has been so inescapable today.
"This is the only opportunity that a lot of people have where they feel comfortable within their souls, within their psyches to stand against racism," Jones said on the ESPN Radio program. "'Cause it's so easy to do it on this right here and it's so scandalous."
Jones went on to bring up the death of a good friend of his, 32-year-old Leonore Draper, an anti-violence activist who was fatally shot outside her Chicago home on Friday, the same night she attended a charity event she helped organize. And he explained why Sterling's previous displays of racism mattered even more than the shocking words on audiotape.
"We hear all this stuff that goes on in Chicago and all these people who die, who lose their lives," he said. "All that stuff that's happening in Chicago is a byproduct of housing discrimination. … Housing discrimination is the biggest reason that we can point to historically for why we've got all these dead kids in Chicago fighting for turf, fighting for real estate with poor accommodations and facilities and everything that you're supposed to have in a city, poor education, all of this because the tax dollars and everything else decided to move away."
"When we start looking at all these people in these lists who are dying as an economic byproduct of the people like Donald Sterling and you now have a problem because, oh my God, he said something that intimated that he doesn't respect his players? I'm calling you out as a fraud."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced in a Tuesday press conference that Sterling has been banned from the NBA for life and will be fined $2.5 million.
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