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Donald Sterling is a moron: column

Updated: April 29, 2014 12:42PM

Being a billionaire doesn’t make a person any less susceptible to being a buffoon.

That’s the lesson of the controversy engulfing Donald Sterling, a man who apparently doesn’t like black people. There is no larger meaning to this ugly situation — certainly not that racism is alive and well and certainly not that we have a long way to go as a society. Those things are obvious, but they’re not any more obvious because of Sterling’s ignorance.

This guy is a moron who happens to own an NBA franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers. Period. The sooner he agrees to give up his ownership, the better.

Magic Johnson concurs. The Hall of Famer came Monday to Gary to help raise money for education but found himself answering questions about what the NBA should do with an owner who allegedly has made bigoted statements.

‘‘There’s no room for racism and discrimination,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘Unfortunately, there’s a man in a power position and a man who should be embracing minorities, not discriminating against them. It has no room in our society or in sports.’’

Johnson denied he’s interested in buying the Clippers, saying they already ‘‘are owned by a man,’’ which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound like much of a denial. But for other, better reasons, he wants Sterling far, far away from the NBA, a league that is 76 percent African-American.

‘‘There’s no room for [racism], so he has to lose the team, hopefully,’’ Johnson said.

If Sterling refuses to sell, the league can isolate him in the same way the world can isolate a rogue nation. Actually, that’s the perfect solution. If the NBA suspends him indefinitely, Sterling can hang out with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, an international pariah, a huge hoops fan and a fellow crackpot.

Clippers players want nothing to do with their owner. But now’s not the time for a boycott, Johnson said.

‘‘They have to play in the playoffs,’’ he said. ‘‘If you boycott, that’s the wrong thing because you still can achieve what you want [a championship]. Now, if nothing happens, then you can boycott in the offseason. And not just the Clippers. The whole league has to. Because if he’s not thrown out, you’ve got to do something.’’

On Monday, CarMax and Virgin America pulled out as corporate partners of the Clippers. More defections will follow. Players won’t want to work for the franchise. No one will want to be associated with an owner who allegedly chided his girlfriend for associating with African-Americans at Clippers games and for posting photos of herself and black people on Instagram. TMZ acquired a tape it maintains is Sterling saying just those things.

‘‘It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,’’ a man is heard saying on the tape. ‘‘Do you have to?’’

One of the people whom Sterling’s girlfriend reportedly was associating with was Johnson.

‘‘I think the fact that you admire [Magic] — I’ve known him well, and he should be admired,’’ the man says on the tape. ‘‘And I’m just saying that it’s too bad you can’t admire him privately. And during your entire [expletive] life, your whole life, admire him — bring him here, feed him, [sleep with] him, I don’t care. You can do anything. But don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games. OK?’’

I mean, Good Lord.

Sterling is so far gone that there’s no going back. Let’s not blame this on age (he is 80), but maybe there’s a tear in the time-space continuum, and he’s locked in the 1950s. You might think that sheer proximity to black basketball players would have made Sterling more enlightened toward other races. Then again, you might have thought
the same of slaveowners in the 1800s.

‘‘We’re not going to stand for it,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘This is America, 2014.’’

Please don’t talk to me about First Amendment rights. Yes, Sterling has the right to say whatever comes to mind, but it doesn’t mean he has a right to be an owner in good standing with the NBA.

He is worth $1.9 billion, the kind of money that can make people believe they can do or say anything. Most of the time they can, but perhaps not when there’s someone holding a recording device.

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