Posted: 12:48 pm Monday, April 28th, 2014

Hawks’ Levenson would support Sterling’s exit 

By Jeff Schultz

Clippers players wore their warmup jerseys inside out during the national anthem Sunday to protest alleged racial remarks by team owner Donald Sterling. (AP photo)

Clippers players wore their warmup jerseys inside out during the national anthem Sunday to protest alleged racial remarks by team owner Donald Sterling. (AP photo)

It has been two days and we’re still waiting for a flat-out denial from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that it was his voice on a secretly recorded conversation in which he revealed himself (again) as a racist. There has been only a non-denial/denial from team president Andy Roeser, whose statement read, in part: “Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings.”

Nowhere in the 176-word statement were the words, “He didn’t say it.”

Given Sterling has been accused of racial and gender discrimination often in the past — notably paying $2.73 million in 2009 to settle a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department for not renting apartments to African Americans or Hispanics — operate on the assumption that the voice on the recording is his. What can the NBA do? Obviously, everybody wants Sterling out — players, coaches, owners, corporate partners, fans, peanut salesmen.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver can, and likely will, suspend Sterling for the playoffs. But there’s some debate as to whether he is empowered to force Sterling to sell.

Hawks part owner Bruce Levenson said he would support a vote if one was taken among the NBA’s other 29 owners to oust Sterling. Levenson released a statement condemning Sterling’s remarks, and then referenced comments from Sacramento mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson: “Mayor Kevin Johnson was correct when he said that this is a defining moment for our league and that Sterling should be given the maximum penalty for his comments. I strongly believe that the league has to have a zero-tolerance policy against racism and discrimination in any form and I have faith that commissioner Adam Silver will act in what’s the best interest of the league. I have expressed these views to Adam and my fellow owners.”

When asked during an interview on 92.9/The Game Monday whether he would support a vote to oust Sterling or force him to sell, should the owner’s identity on the tapes be confirmed, Levenson said: “Yes.”

He was less certain if the commissioner’s office has that power. He acknowledged that owners have to sign a document “that’s literally hundreds of pages long” and there are “representations we have to make to be good stewards as owners of our teams.”

The document, Levenson said, gives the commissioner’s office “broad powers … when owners have crossed lines. This is a pretty big line that appears to have been crossed. Can I tell you exactly how far Adam can I go? I can’t. I’m sure the lawyers are advising him on that.”

Two other aspects of this worth noting:

1.) The NBA can partly blame itself for all this. Former commissioner David Stern largely was lauded for his work, but he and the league’s owners enabled Sterling for years. Sterling long has been considered one of pro sports’ most embarrassing owners but the NBA’s response largely has been to ignore him, maybe believing they could get away with it because the Clippers historically have been a bad team and were dwarfed in their own city by the Lakers in media attention.

2.) Not that Silver will ask Hawks general manager Danny Ferry for his opinion of Sterling, but there’s a little bit of history there. When Ferry was coming out of Duke in 1989, he and his agent asked the Clippers not to draft him. They did anyway — second overall. So Ferry opted to temporarily give up his NBA dream and signed with a team in Rome, Italy (Il Messaggero). He played there for a year before the Clippers traded his draft rights to Cleveland.

59 comments
Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Speaking of fallen sports personalities...

On the day Michael Vick went to prison after pleading guilty to sadistic, HATE-filled, ritualistic animal torture and murder as well as illegal interstate gambling, we were inundated with children holding "Everbody Makes Mistakes!" and "Forgive Mike Vick!" signs in shouting protests as well as grownups wearing "[Forget] the Haterz! Let Vick Play!" t-shirts.

Why are those same individuals not showing that same level of "forgiveness" and compassion for the "Mistakes" of Mr. Sterling?

Why aren't those individuals trying to protect Mr. Sterling from his particular 'Haters?'

MikeS777
MikeS777

I'd like to also say that I think Mark Jackson and Magic Johnson should keep all these boycott comments to themselves.  Let Doc Rivers and the Clippers take the lead on this.  Its their season hanging in the balance.  Mark Jackson especially shouldnt be calling for a boycott of game 5 with his team coming in there trying to steal home court advantage in a 2-2 series.  


If Doc and the Clippers players want people to stop coming to games, then let them say so.  Personally, I think that tallk is all premature anyway until the NBA hands out its punishment.  


No need to punish Doc, the players, the fans, the workers in the arena, etc for one man's dumb comments.  SA and OKC are in serious trouble of losing, so the Clips could find themselves with home court advantage through the rest of the playoffs  That's too good to pass up over this.  Let them tell people if they want to flush their playoff chances or not.


According to TNT one owner suggested all players should be able to become free agents at the end of the season.  That way they can choose not to play for Sterling.  I don't know how anyone would want to now.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Well, these comments are certainly unacceptable, but Mark Cuban was right last night when he said we are on a slippery slope here.  


TNT has some good coverage on this last night.


Did Kobe Bryant or other players get cut from the league when they uttered gay or racial slurs?  No.  They were fined and made a public apology.  Cuban was basically asking where do you draw the line.  This can't be just about racial remarks towards black people.  


I would echo Charles Barkley's thoughts on this:  Sterling should do the right thing.  He should say he was wrong to make those statements, and tell everyone he is putting the team up for sale to minimize damage to the Clippers.  Also, Charles pointed out that these comments were taped in private without Sterling's knowledge which in itself is a whole different issue.  The Warriors just fired an assistant for doing that.


My question is what happened that she decided to release this?  He'd been showering her with 6 figure cars, a place to live, spending money...did he cut her off?  Is this payback?  How long had she been taping conversations?  If this is how he had consistently behaved, she obviously was overlooking it for the money.  Keep in mind she is part black, part hispanic.


Regardless the comments are out, and I just don't see how the Clippers can proceed forward with him as owner.

TheOldGuy
TheOldGuy

My understanding of the elements of the story:  There is an old man with a lot of money. He has a young girlfriend who calmly disagrees with him. Someone records their conversation.

He says bad things. The tape becomes public. The PC police ride to the rescue. Is there more to this story?

Wayne_stuck_in_AL
Wayne_stuck_in_AL

As a former Thrasher fan, I wish either Levenson or Mike Gearon (or both) had said something really vile so that Hawk fan (or black Atlantan) would hate him the same way Thrasher fans do.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Ride this stupid jerk out on a rail.

JaySly
JaySly

The league need to order this racist billionaire out right now--I'm tired of all the racism against st African Americans in sports-the players need to protest and not play --

NajehDavenpoop
NajehDavenpoop

After hearing Mark Cuban's BS excuse-making response to the Sterling issue, it's easier to appreciate Levenson taking a stand.

THEBuckeyes1
THEBuckeyes1

Sooooooooo why is there no uproar over the fact that the NBA is only 15% - 20% white?  I find it funny that certain people are worried about the lack of blacks in MLB but the lack of whites in the NBA is not an issue.

jaggar1
jaggar1

Why don't these players quit, if they don't want to play? Get over the crying, and this is not news. Please

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Yes, the guy is a racist. But the players are also hypocrites. For them to publicly outcry against this guy yet happily keep taking his pay. They should refuse to take his money if this makes them so angry.

But to keep taking his money and then protest him - I see it as hypocrisy. And, I'd like every one of the players to be privately recorded on mic's at home all year to see if they ever say anything inappropriate about white people. If they do, I want them to be forced out of the league just like Sterling. ie let he who casts the first stone be sin free in all of his life and actions.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

The $2,73 million payoff in 2009 isn't close to Sterling's largest amount in a discimination suit.  In 2003 he paid  upwards of $5m to settle a lawsuit brought by the Housing Rights Center charging that he tried to drive non-Korean tenants out of apartments he bought in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles.

Jazzy501
Jazzy501

People don't go to the game!!!! You have to make a stand that his beliefs are his own and we should not be subjected to his issues! Why own a black team if you hate black people! He's making lots of money off Blacks, however, he actually hate black people! He really does not care, he's rich, stupid and old! He really do feel he is justified and don't care....Like they are reporting, this is not his first time speaking out his true feelings! It cost him $2.73M in 2009.  He has it, he does not care! Get over it or do something about it!

RickyBobby
RickyBobby

These elitists hate all us regular folks, white, black, Asian, etc  - they just pretend otherwise.  I know we're all equal but these Godless people think their money makes them better.  Sadly, while this geezer is alive, there's some truth to that in our culture.  Don't worry, none of us get out of this alive...He won't skate on this.  Great commandment - "Love one another"!  GO HAWKS! 

KingByumayuma
KingByumayuma

People today are such lazy cry babies. You want everyone to do your dirty work for you without being inconvenienced. IF you truly were offended by the owners remarks you would boycott the NBA all together,  not just the Clippers , but EVERY TEAM. But we know how Americans are they love to point fingers and cry foul and then ask someone to take care of it. So when they do not get what they want they can cry foul some more and push the blame on to some other group, class, race or country.  You want this guy gone? Boycott the NBA 100% until you get the results you want. Otherwise sit on your couch eating your potato chips and yelling about how life is not fair.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Levenson is just happy the ASG is not the worst owner in the NBA for the time being.  He better be glad that NBA owners can't force an owner to sell or it would have been enforced long ago when the ASG dolts were busy suing themselves, lying to fans, and resigning JJ to max contract just after he gave fans the finger.   A complete embarrassment to the Hawks, the entire city of Atlanta, and the NBA.  Levenson and his band of fools best keep their mouths shut or they will find themselves back in the bottom position of NBA owners again.

BigTimeTECHFan
BigTimeTECHFan

I listen to the conversation:

Things don't line up, sounds confusing

He may be a racist, I don't know but something about that conversion is very odd, 

the girl keeps referring to "Black People" to get him to say something like she is setting him up. she keep bring it up over and over again. Maybe she knows he's racist and wanted to get it on tape.

Also sounds like she has a thing for black men, he doesn't like it, but is it because they are black, or simple that they are the other men, and she keep interject "black men" so when he responds it sounds like he's referring to black men.

He talks about White and Black jews in Israel, and how the whites mistreat the black jews and it's wrong.



Her comment

"I DID remove the people that were independently on my Instagram" pause, pause, pause then  "that are black"

was very odd, almost audio dubbed, why did SHE need to interject "that are black"


He even says "you think I'm a racist?" "you think I have evil heart" like she is instigating it....


He sounds cooky, but the whole tape is weird.




Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

As a devoted NHL Atlanta THRASHERS fan and Season Ticket Holder, I would support Bruce Levenson's "exit" from an airplane at 30,000 feet.

SamTheSham
SamTheSham

His racial remarks should be no excuse for the players to disrespect their country?  Their "hands behind the back" during the National Anthem is also very offensive.  

centgaboy
centgaboy

Essentially another of those famous such quotes-are ya gonna believe your lying ears or what I now tell ya?

Delusionaldog
Delusionaldog

As I am a  Hawk's fan of those days of Nique and Spud and Tree, what Cliff Levingston has to say about this matter is not relevant. 


The NBA has known this guy's stripes for years. He has written big $$ checks to Democratic causes.


Now they cry foul?


BS

MikeS777
MikeS777

*one owner suggested all Clippers players should be able to become free agents at the end of the season.

Kane337
Kane337

@THEBuckeyes1  There are actually a lot of blacks in MLB. They just happen to be from the Caribbean or South America. But the onus always seems to be on the African-American player. 

Native_Atlantan
Native_Atlantan

@TreeRollins It just ain't that simple when you have multimillion dollar contracts involved.  They don't have the right to sit out or they'll be fined/sued.  If it was that simple Lebron would've quit Cleveland LONNNG before he did.

Pandrew
Pandrew

@TreeRollins So you can't complain about your boss and still receive payment for the work you do? If that's the case, I think we all probably need to return a few paychecks.

JSSN
JSSN

@PaulinNH  

Exactly, he used the period following the Rodney King riots to corner the rental market in large sections of LA. Then he moved to evict many elderly fixed income minority renters!  Just amazing!

Ultraman8
Ultraman8

@Jazzy501  I would like to point out that he did not say that he hated black people. What he said was he did not want his mistress to bring a black guy to the game. Now, why this married guy has a mistress- I don't know. Warrior coach Mark Jackson had a red headed mistress; several NBA players have had babies out of wedlock. The NBA is out of control and the cry of Racism has to stop. We need rules that everyone has to follow. Mr. Rollins is right. If we are going to have taped conversations by owners, then let's mic up all the players at home and see what they say about white people/asian people etc. Once again, where in the conversation does Mr.
Sterling, allegedly, says " I hate black people?"  NO WHERE. Would a black father be racist if he told his black daughter that she could have white friends but to not date a white guy? NO. That is his preference. If he was a racist, he would have said- now white friends or white dates. I hate white people. 

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

And all those players chose to play for him anyway even those his reputation already confirmed his racist beliefs. So is this is a case of both sides sharing the blame here? Or is it OK to sign your soul over to the devil if he's willing to pay you money for it?

Answer that one for me?

Ultraman8
Ultraman8

@GeorgeJetsen  I am surprised the ASG has ANY season ticket holders after what  they did to the Thrashers. And you are right, the suing act rivaled a circus act. They could not get their act together. It appears that the NBA By Laws do not allow the stripping of a franchise unless the team is insolvent or the owner is involved in drugs/gambling etc.  The MLB I think has other rules- i.e. Marge Schott. 

centgaboy
centgaboy

@Delusionaldog This has nothing to do with Dem/Rep pal- it has to do with another racist who has gotten a free pass for far too long because of his money-another bigoted racist. So that is a foul on you

Ultraman8
Ultraman8

@TreeRollins  Mr. Rollins, I agree with you 100%.  I wish more people would consider your point of view. BTW, Thank you for playing for the Hawks.  I enjoyed coming to the games and watching you play at the Omni. 

Barack_Bi-Curious
Barack_Bi-Curious

Suppoer??

Nice of you to join us, Mr. Atlanta Spirit Group member.

SamTheSham
SamTheSham

Right hand over the heart Mexico?  A little respect for the country has nothing to do with what this owner said.

GMCG68
GMCG68

@AnsweredTHIS @Delusionaldog I see reading comprehension is woefully lacking here.  "They" would be the NBA....as in the league....Commissioner Stern, league leadership and owners.  That wasn't very hard now was it.  I see we have a few little liberals upset that he references Democrat.   He's making a point that people around the league AND beyond....see DNC, NAACP have known about this guy for a long time....yet they ALL accepted his money.  Again, wasn't too hard to understand the bigger point.   

Ultraman8
Ultraman8

@AnsweredTHIS @Delusionaldog  I think he is trying to link the DNC with the PC ism that has infiltrated the country and how they are instilling the kumbaya theory that everyone should love one another, like back i the hippie days.  He'd have a better chance of reconciling the Russians and the Chinese.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@SamTheSham

So you see a few guys that dont have their hand over their heart and you term that as disrespect? COME ON MAN STOP IT!  Disrespect is being told you dont want your mistress girlfirend to hang around or post pictures of black men on a website.........but that point flew over your head! Them having their hand over their heart (or not) has nothing to do with this article. Disrespect is saying the things that Sterling has said and yet you really got off topic here to take the light off of the real problem! I mean REALLY!?!?!?!?!

Ultraman8
Ultraman8

@GMCG68  man does have a point. THE NAACP was about to give Sterling a lifetime achievement award. What for I have no idea-maybe for writing checks to the NAACP. Heck, Obama was given a Nobel Peace Prize 3 months after he was first elected.  Write a check and get a prize.

AnsweredTHIS
AnsweredTHIS

@GMCG68

Lets see if you can "comprehend" as you put it! The point I am making is simple.......how does this relate to the democratic party?  No bigger point needed catch up smart guy........catch up! Not very hard to understand that this is about Sterling doing what he did and nothing to do with the Democratic party.........correct?  Again, catch up smart guy catch up!