Why selling the Clippers to the fans is the best way to respond to Donald Sterling's racist rant
The verdict is in. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, just delivered a lifetime ban to L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his appalling racist comments and is strongly urging the Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the team.
The outrage over these comments from an NBA owner is fitting. 80% of the Clippers' roster (and the NBA as a whole) is black. Their coach--one of the best in basketball--is black. Their all-star captain--and president of the NBA Players Union--is black.
LeBron James initial reaction was spot on: "there is no room for Donald Sterling in our league." and consensus built rapidly among fans, players, and the broader public that Donald Sterling needs to go.
But Sterling's tirade reaches beyond a degrading assault on his team or even the NBA as a whole. As Magic Johnson pointed out, "There is no place for his sentiment in our society"
Sports are a part of America's cultural identity. At their best, they embody fundamentally American values of dedication, teamwork, and loyalty and the honorable contribution to something larger than one's self. From Madison Square Garden to the Staples Center, and in arenas, sports bars, and living rooms everywhere in between, sports bring us together. This issue is not about black or white, rich or poor, player, owner, or fan. It is about the nation that we all pledge to keep indivisible.
When something ugly like racism threatens one of our cherished institutions, we all must respond. But how? Most of the conversation will be focused on the severity of Sterling's punishment, but that won't heal the wounds he opened. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that "darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. And hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
And that's what the NBA is all about. Nothing captured the spirit of the NBA better than the league's slogan back in the 90's: "I love this game!"
So here is a crazy idea. As the NBA drives Donald Sterling out, let us, the fans of basketball from all around the country, build a movement to take over this team with our shared love or the game. The NBA and WNBA have the most diverse fan base of any of the major professional sports leagues. And it is clear from the millions of fans watching and attending the NBA playoffs in record numbers that we, America, love this game now more than ever.
Let's buy the Clippers and work together to make them the first team of the fans, by the fans, and for the fans.
Working together, we can make this happen. Here's what we need to do:
1. Raise the first million dollars needed to buy the team
The internet has made it possible to crowdfund anything. The NBA boasts over 250 million likes and followers on Facebook. We've created an Indiegogo Page and if we all chipped in what we could--$5, $50, or $500--we could raise the money to buy the team. We think if we can crowdfund the first $1 million throughout the playoffs, we could attract enough investors, celebrities, and philanthropists to kick in the rest.
2. Start a national movement to imagine a team of the fans, by the fans, and for the fans
Using #OurClippers, let's re-imagine the management of a national sports franchise and together determine what our ideal fan-owned NBA team could be like. Maybe #OurClippers would reserve front row tickets at every game for fans in elementary school. Or #OurClippers would vote on the charities to donate 20% of team profits to. What if #OurClippers had a bobblehead hall of fame in the stadium with a custom bobblehead of each of our fans? We know your ideas will be even better than ours--so let's start the conversation and make #OurClippers a trending topic across the country.
3. Grow our digital fan base on Facebook
If we are going to show we are serious, we need to build a movement. Let's get five million supporters from all over the country on our Facebook page to show the NBA Commissioner and its owners that the best course of action after getting Donald Sterling out is to bring the fans of the NBA in!
We have a once in a lifetime opportunity in front of us. Together, we can turn to turn racist statements into a public statement for respect, cooperation, and innovation. We can give the game back to the fans.
Throughout history, our nation has proven that we achieve our greatest feats when we work as a team. Right now, our team is calling. It's time for all of us to put on our Clippers jerseys and get in the game.