To give you an idea of who we’re talking about: Donald Sterling owns an entire building in Los Angeles, but for years chose to keep the building unoccupied beyond his own offices. “Some people think I’m eccentric for keeping Sterling Plaza to myself,” he told Sports Illustrated in 2000. “I like riding up and down the elevators alone. It’s a luxury I’ve earned.” Then, a few paragraphs later: “I’ve suffered. Oh, how I’ve suffered. Do you know what it is to truly suffer?”
It’s that sort of audacity that’s defined his behavior for decades on end. Especially in light of L.A.’s feel-good resurgence this year, it had been too long since we had a reminder that Donald Sterling is a reptilian disaster of a human being, with only that loose, over-tanned skin hiding the cruelty and pettiness that’s lived in his bones for decades.
The stories go on forever, and you’ve probably heard many of them already. There was the federal discrimination lawsuit he settled last year, where it was alleged he refused to rent property to black tenants. Or his former assistant, who once offered the following anecdote in a sworn deposition, recounted later in an ESPN Magazine profile:
When Sterling first bought the Ardmore, he remarked on its odor to Davenport. “That’s because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean,” he said, according to Davenport’s testimony. “And it’s because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day.” He added: “So we have to get them out of here.”
And the discrimination suit brought by Elgin Baylor, which Sterling won, but that still gave the world sections like this:
The NBA and the CLIPPERS used Mr. BAYLOR to induce African American players to join the CLIPPERS, despite the Clippers’ reputation of being unwilling to fairly treat and compensate African American players and STERLING’S pervasive and ongoing racist attitude as expressed to then NBA player Danny Manning during 1988 contract negotiations when he said, “I’m offering a lot of money for a poor Black kid”
Sterling allegedly would bring his dates into the Clipper locker room to admire his employees while they showered, saying, “Look at those beautiful black bodies.” Or the one-time female employee who told ESPN Magazine that “working for Donald Sterling was the most demoralizing, dehumanizing experience of my life.”