04/28/2014 08:01 pm ET Updated Jun 28, 2014

Stop Telling Clippers Players the 'Right' Way to Handle Donald Sterling's Comments


At this point, the last thing anyone needs to read is another column or expose on the overt and repugnant racism allegedly displayed by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

We get it -- he's has no place as an NBA owner. At this point most people know, or should know, that the recordings released by TMZ this past Saturday were not as much as an "expose" on Sterling's racism, but a cherry on top of a veritable three-scoop sundae of racism he's been a part of for most of his adult life.

The guy is an alleged racist, and he's also possibly a misogynist. There's just not all that much left to be said.

Here's what does need to be said.

How the players on the Los Angeles Clippers decided to protest what their boss Donald Sterling was allegedly recorded saying was not up to anyone else to decide, and harshly judging them for that decision is arrogant and out-of-line.

It is one thing to express what you'd have liked to have seen, or how you might proceed if put in a similar situation. It is a whole different, and totally inappropriate, thing to harshly judge or critique them for that decision.

Michael Powell of the New York Times clearly has a different take on that.

In an op-ed published online late Sunday evening, Powell takes the players to task for their decision to take the court against the Golden State Warriors and then play a nationally televised NBA playoff game at 3:30 eastern time: "The Clippers players turned their red practice jerseys inside out, like baseball players wearing silly rally caps. Then the horn sounded and they wore their real jerseys and that was that."

Wow, isn't working for Sterling bad enough? Now the Clippers players and coaches are also being called out in the op-ed pages of major newspapers and magazines.

I guess Chris Paul, Doc Rivers and the rest of the Clippers forgot to ask Powell and Sean Gregory of Time magazine what their best course of action would be?

Then again, why on earth should they have to do that?

Don't the players deserver a little latitude?

Doesn't Doc Rivers deserve better than to be mocked by Powell for his lack of knowledge about Donald Sterling's history?

"Rivers might want to pick up a history book of his league, or the civil rights movement. He chose to sign with the Clippers for a terrific pile of gold, and so this moment is his."

Yes, that's right, Rivers had it coming. I'm sure when he interviewed for the Clippers job there were posters of George Wallace hanging in the owner's office, along with a confederate flag and a signed autographed picture of Sterling with former Cincinnati Reds owner, the late Marge Schott.

Yes, Sterling's racist practices had been discussed and even litigated in court, but just in case anyone has forgotten, being a NBA head coach doesn't afford one too much job security. To excel at the job requires a year-round commitment and a single-minded focus. That's why Greg Popovichs are rare.

Phil Jackson's body was breaking down from the rigors of the job, and he wasn't a player, he was the Los Angeles Lakers head coach. Pat Riley was an exceptional head coach, but he gave it up for a less grueling front office job.

Those are the gold standards of modern NBA coaching, and if you're not on that list, then your job security -- regardless of your contract -- is pretty much determined on a year-by-year basis.

Thus it is very easy for Michael Powell to say what the Clippers should have done, or what Doc Rivers should have known. That's easy, but actually being one of those players, someone such as Chris Paul? Well, that's a whole different ball game.

Haven't the last few days been tough enough for the Clippers players and coaches?

Does anyone think for one second that the Clippers players and coaches wouldn't have had to face criticism regardless of what they decided to do in advance of Sunday's game against the Golden State Warriors?

They were in a no-win situation. Had the Clippers boycotted the game, they likely would have had to endure a spate of columns and televised diatribes excoriating them as a bunch of spoiled millionaires too selfish to care about the fans who had spent their hard-earned money to buy tickets.

Had they failed to make any sort of statement, then the Clippers would have been roasted for being the same spoiled millionaires, only they'd be too wealthy and comfortable to have to bother with taking any sort of meaningful stance on anything controversial.

Additionally, since when is it the sole responsibility of the players to initiate change and protest?

They're the employees, not the owners. Where are the New York Times op-eds excoriating the other 28 NBA owners for not protesting Sterling's remarks?

With the notable exceptions of Charlotte Bobcats owner and former player Michael Jordan, and Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, the majority of owners have been silent on this seemingly cut-and-dry issue.

No entity has more power than the owners. The players can do whatever they want, and according to statements made by Players Union spokesman Kevin Johnson, the players have a fairly solid plan of attack on this issue, but it is the owners who have the most sway.

The thing about professional athletes is that they are "professional" athletes. That means they do take their jobs seriously. They do take the competition seriously. Guys like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and the other players have spent their lives trying to get to the playoffs, in hopes of winning a NBA Championship. Now according to two guys who probably have not had to contemplate whether or not they'd win a NBA Championship over the course of their non-existent pro basketball careers, the players shouldn't have to think twice about possibly flushing that away.

Let's remember, Chris Paul was traded to the Clippers only after a trade which would have sent him to the Lakers was vetoed by former NBA commissioner David Stern. Paul didn't choose to play for Donald Sterling, the NBA and his former team, the New Orleans Pelicans, sent him there.

Blake Griffin, the Clippers other superstar, didn't choose to play for the Clippers. The Clippers chose him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft.

Yet now it is the responsibility of these two superstars and their less well-known teammates to provide the correct measure of protest and professionalism to help unseat their own boss?

Plus, aren't results ultimately what really matters? No one in their right mind could think that Chris Paul and other members of the Clippers are the slightest bit concerned about whether the guys like Michael Powell and Sean Gregory are happy with their form of protest.

At the end of the day the players want Donald Sterling to pay a steep price for his racism. Less than 24 hours after the supposedly inadequate protest by the Clippers, the hammer is really starting to fall on Sterling and the Clippers.

Corporate sponsors are fleeing the Clippers and it is happening quickly. According to a report posted Monday afternoon on, Virgin America, CarMax, State Farm, Kia Motors and Sprint are among the major corporations either cutting or suspending sponsorship deals with the Clippers.

As it turns out, calling out the Clippers players for an allegedly inadequate protest is not only arrogant, but also totally wrong. Those corporate sponsorships mean more to the money-minded NBA than any form of protest the players could have possibly mounted.

That's something the players and head coach Doc Rivers might have thought about prior to making their decision about how best to protest Sterling's statements on Sunday afternoon.

Clearly Michael Powell and Sean Gregory didn't think about that. They were too fixated on finding a way to call out the players. The players didn't ask for this, they didn't deserve it, and just maybe they were far better prepared to handle it than some people thought they were.

Stop telling these young men what they should do, or what they must do, or what they should have done. Basketball fans need to show the Clippers what their owner never did, respect.