Report: Donald Sterling's Racism Almost Halted J.J. Redick-LA Clippers Signing

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 5, 2014

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If Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling had his way, J.J. Redick would be playing for someone else. 

Last July, when head coach Doc Rivers was handed the reins of Sterling's franchise, Redick's arrival was considered a formality.

Until it wasn't.

Trade and contract talks hit a snag. That snag was a purported penny-pinching racist, who wanted no part in paying him, per USA Today's Sam Amick:

Sterling, the man whose racist comments sparked this whole furor, was believed to have had concerns about paying a white player that kind of money (four years, $27 million). He had once given white center Chris Kaman a five-year, $52 million deal, and how that contract panned out (or didn't, as Kaman played 195 games in the next four years of that deal and was traded to New Orleans with a year and a half left) appeared to be coloring Sterling's judgment on this deal. In a way, it was a mirror-image of the issue that would be front and center 10 months later.

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski recounted a similar tale previously, one in which Sterling's bigotry took center stage.

"He thought it was too much to pay for a white player," a source told Wojnarowski.

Sounds about right.

Sterling's individual bias was well known long before TMZ released an audiotape of him making racially charged remarks to then-girlfriend V. Stiviano. This anecdote is merely an extension of his views and, sadly, not at all atypical.

While there's always the possibility this incident was drummed up in light of Sterling's recent lifetime ban, Redick pretty much confirmed the story, via Amick:

I've been told both ways: one, that he didn't want to pay me because I was white, and that he didn't want to pay me because I was a bench player. I didn't know (the deal almost fell apart) until after the fact. I just got a weird phone call from Doc on July 4, and I got off the phone and said to my wife, "Something's going on." He's like, "You better play for me (expletive)." And I was like, "Yeah, that's the plan. We figured this out two days ago, right?"

And then he just rambled a bit. ...But he never really got into the nuts and bolts of what was happening. And then I got a call about 48 hours later from my agent, and he said, "We wanted to keep you out of it, but here's what happened."

What happened was Sterling. Again. 

A dark shadow has been cast over the Clippers on his behalf for quite some time. He has always been the psychologically warped elephant sitting courtside, pulling strings from afar, his presence considered an obstacle rather than a catalyst.

Given all he's done, it's painfully ironic that this type of prejudice didn't seal Sterling's fate with the NBA before now. From housing discrimination to wrongful termination to his disdain for paying Redick, Sterling has been accused of so many horrible things.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 10: Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, looks on as his team plays against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on April 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agr
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

But it's not the lawsuits or his reported attempt to dissuade Redick's arrival that did him in. It was essentially pillow talk that failed to confirm anything we didn't already know. 

Like Bleacher Report's Dan Levy explained, Sterling's opinions weren't news:

It is not news that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a racist. It is news, however, when Sterling saying ridiculously racist things gets leaked to TMZ, who released a tape that claims to be the Clippers owner arguing with his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, about bringing black people to games with her and posing for pictures with other minorities on Instagram.

The real story here is Sterling's continued presence. What took the NBA so long to take action?

Better yet, why is Redick even in Los Angeles, when he knew firsthand how damaging Sterling's unethical morals could be? 

Somewhat lost in all this is the part players had in enabling Sterling. They, like the owners, knew what Sterling had been accused of; they knew who he was. Why play for him?

LA JOLLA, CA, OCTOBER 4: Head Coach Doc Rivers & J.J. Redick #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers share a moment in training camp at RIMAC Arena on October 4, 2013 in La Jolla, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadin
Andy Hayt/Getty Images

Because they don't actually play for him.

"I came here for Doc," Redick said, per Amick. "I came here for Chris (Paul) and Blake (Griffin)."

That's why Redick will stay. That's why other players will eventually come. That's why this franchise won't be wrecked by one individual and his depraved sense of morality.

Redick joined the Clippers to win. He, like Rivers and Paul, became a Clipper and remains a Clipper in spite of who Sterling is and everything he represents.

Together, as a team, they are bigger than Sterling has ever been, or will ever be.