The road to an NBA Championship is never easy. If you are the Los Angeles Clippers, things just got a whole lot harder.
To call owner Donald Sterling's alleged racist comments a distraction is an understatement. TMZ Sports released an audio recording between Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano. Throughout the recording, Sterling makes racist comments about minorities, mainly about African-Americans. Sterling even goes as far as to single out Lakers great Magic Johnson.
Sterling was very outspoken about Stiviano associating with black people.
You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that ... and not to bring them to my games.
Johnson, who was singled out by Sterling on the recording, addressed the issue on Twitter.
.@cjbycookie and I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
I feel sorry for my friends Coach Doc Rivers and Chris Paul that they have to work for a man that feels that way about African Americans.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
There are many more ignorant and downright asinine quotes to be picked from that recording, but Sterling is not the focus of this column.
Rather, it is to praise the Clippers players and coach Doc Rivers for remaining strong and deciding to play through all of this lunacy.
A lot of talk has been brought up about the team boycotting and sitting out the remainder of the playoffs, something Rivers said he and the team addressed, according to ESPN's Arash Markazi.
I thought we needed to talk about it because everyone else is and so we needed to talk about it and all things came up. We've heard all the stuff, the boycotts and all the stuff and all those things are things you could do but we choose to play and we're going to play tomorrow. ... It was brought up because I'm sure 20,000 people have suggested it but honestly I'm completely against that and they (the players) were, too.
Rivers went on to say that he and his team's dreams of a championship had nothing to do with Sterling.
This is a situation where we're trying to go after something very important for us. Something that we've all dreamed about all our childhoods. Donald or anyone else had nothing to do with that dream and we're not going to let anything get in the way of those dreams.
As despicable as this whole situation is for the Clippers organization and the NBA, the team is making the right decision here. Yes, the team, which is predominantly African-American and led by NBA players union president Chris Paul, should feel hurt by all of this, and it has been made clear that they do.
Sure, it would be easy for the team to bury their heads in the sand and sit this one out. No one would blame them. It would take a very strong-willed person to play through that hurt. Some would even say that playing and winning a championship would just be doing another service for the ungrateful, hypocritical Sterling.
However, a legitimate run at an NBA Championship is rare, and the Clippers have one right now. As Rivers said, this has been a dream for these players since they were kids, and Sterling had nothing to with that. To let the idiocy of Sterling's remarks keep them from playing would be a big mistake. It would almost be like letting him win.
The Clippers have kept basketball exciting in Los Angeles at a time when the Lakers are in a decline, providing the city and their fans with competitive, show-stopping basketball over the past few years.
Those fans, that city, and most importantly, those players deserve better than to be derailed by a bigot whose mindset is stuck in another century.
So, commend the Clippers.
They may not be making the easy choice, but they are making the right one.
What is your take on the Clippers decision to continue to play?
Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk NBA Basketball.