Mayo: Why did Sterling buy an NBA team?

Sun Sentinel Columnist

When it comes to the Donald Sterling saga, here's the central question/mystery I don't get: Why did he buy an NBA team to begin with?

For a guy who espoused such abhorrent views about blacks, Sterling sure didn't seem to have a problem making money from a team and sports league that are predominantly black.

So in that sense, it seems Sterling wasn't color-blind so much as blinded by color -- the color green. He's apparently one of those eccentric, repugnant rich guys who doesn't mind being a hypocrite so long as he could make money. On the tapes that were leaked to TMZ, he told his alleged mistress that he didn't want her seen with blacks.

And now that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver delivered such a swift and strong message on Tuesday by permanently banning the Los Angeles Clippers owner from the league, get ready for the ultimate irony.

If Sterling is forced to sell the team by other NBA owners, as Silver wants, then Sterling is going to profit handsomely from the labors of his mostly black workforce.

Sterling bought the Clippers (when the team was based in San Diego) for $12 million in 1981. NBA franchises can now fetch $500 million and above. In a major market like Los Angeles the price tag could approach $1 billion.

Sterling has been a terrible owner on all counts. His franchise was long mired in mediocrity and known for its penny-pinching ways. And now his punishment will be cashing out big-time, being rewarded for terrible stewarship and bad behavior simply because he got his money into the sports game at the right time?

Sterling's views are ugly, and Silver did what he had to do. As Silver and LeBron James said, there's no room for the likes of Donald Sterling in a diverse NBA.

But instead of getting punishment, Sterling is going to reap a Powerball lottery-sized jackpot.

So much for just deserts.


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