Pondering the Clippers Owner Issue


L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling was fined 2.5 million dollars and suspended from the NBA for life because of racist remarks he made to his girlfriend.

In full disclosure, I do not watch NBA basketball, never heard of this owner before this started and really don’t have any interest in the L.A. Clippers, or the NBA.

As I understand from the news reports:

  1. This man was already known in the league for racist behavior
  2. He is married, this “girlfriend” is not his wife
  3. These comments were a private conversation between him and his “girlfriend” and not made publically.  She chose to release these words for reasons she only knows.

Here are a few thoughts as I ponder:

  1. Racism is a despicable scourge on our country.
    1. Racism is sin
    2. Racism is wrong
    3. Racism violates the Word of God
  2. I do not know the condition of this man’s soul
    1. I do not know his life or the truth of his character
    2. I do not know what religion he claims, if any
    3. I do not know his profession of faith, if any

i.      I cannot expect a lost person to live like a redeemed/born again soul

ii.      Even if lost, we have a community standard of morality and decency

iii.      Racist behavior, in words or deeds, is abhorrent to both believers and non believers

  1. There are and should be consequences for bad behavior, including this event
    1. Players could ask to be let out of their contracts if they do not want to play for him
    2. Fans should not buy tickets or their products if they do not want to support this behavior
    3. Sponsors should not continue to support the team if they do not want their products associated with this man
  2. I have problems with the NBA actions though
    1. He did not commit a crime
    2. As reprehensible as his words are to the vast majority of mankind, his speech is constitutionally protected.
  3. Each American Citizen has the right to free speech.
    1. Our speech is constitutionally protected
    2. Amendment I – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
  4. We have no constitutional right to NOT BE offended
    1. Reality is, we will be offended
    2. People say and do things I am offended by on a daily basis.
    3. How can groups like the KKK or Westboro Church remain valid and “First Amendment Approved” and this is criminal?

i.      Courts have ruled that their speech – as disgusting and vile as it is – is protected speech

*How does this not apply to this owner?

  1. If this man’s right to free speech can be limited, maybe your right to free speech will be next.
    1. Should someone be fined and banned for a constitutionally protected speech, even if it is horrid?
    2. What if the “powers that be” decide sharing your faith is wrong and fine, ban, imprison you for speaking the name of Jesus Christ?
    3. I find profanity to be abusive and offensive

i.      Does that mean every person who cusses should be banned/fired/suspended?

ii.      If a player releases an expletive when they are badly injured on the court or field, should they be suspended for life?

  1. If the NBA can expel and fine an owner for his speech, will they do the same for other speech?
    1. Maybe for other speech we consider abusive?

i.      Profanity

ii.      Racist speech about other races?

iii.      Talking bad about an owner, player or commissioner?

iv.      How long before your speech is regulated or banned?

B. Will the NBA ban musicians who use vulgarity, profanity, anti-police statements or racist comments from NBA games and their music from being played at NBA games, practices and locker rooms?

  1. How does an OWNER get suspended?
    1. He is not an NBA employee or contracted player for the NBA
    2. If they expel the owner is the owners team expelled as well?
    3. Could he layoff the players and employees?
    4. Could he simply shut down the L.A. Clippers organization?
  2. Will this owner sue the NBA?
    1. It would seem he has grounds for a federal lawsuit
  3. These tapes are out there.
    1. Who he really is has been exposed to the entire world

i.      He will never be able to run from these comments

ii.      Even if the recordings were made illegally, the truth is out there in his own words

12. I think his words, and the heart and attitudes behind these words, are absolutely gross, disgusting and have no place in our world, country or culture

A. I think our Constitution protects him from punishment for his words.

13. I think, and hope, that the “free market” will prove effective in enforcing our moral standards

    1. I do not think the NBA has the right to punish, even if they somehow have the authority
    2. How people choose to fund and support the Clippers and this owner is their right
    3. I would hope the players have some recourse to not play for the team/owner if they do not want to be on his team.
    4. I would hope that someone with access to Mr. Sterling would take the time to share the gospel with him and show him the love that God has for all mankind.
    5. I would hope someone who has access to his family would minster to them during this difficult time and share the gospel with her.
    6. I would hope that someone with access to this “girlfriend” would minister to her and share the gospel.

Hard thoughts that speak to the depths of our heart, the heart of our faith and the truth of our Constitution.  I do not claim to have any answers that will make everyone feel good or even agree with; but I have the right to think and speak them.

These are my ponderings and I alone am responsible for them.   Thanks    – Pastor Bob Alderman