Ironic Name Hall of Fame: Donald Sterling

Although he is splashed across the headlines this week, the Los Angeles Clippers’ longtime owner and agitator has had less than a “Sterling” reputation for some time.

Sterling

Believe it or not, Donald Sterling is currently the longest tenured NBA owner.  That is, until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver convinces three-quarters of the other NBA owners (22 out of 29) to force a sale of the Clippers, after which he’ll just be a forlorn billionaire business magnate who will (likely) profit more than $1 billion upon the team being sold.  Not even Clippers numbers guru Cliff Paul knows the bounds of Sterling’s pocketbook.  You can almost hear the gold plated violin playing over his left shoulder.

There is a pretty strong consensus that Sterling is a bad dude and a general stench on the Clippers organization.  Over the years, he has been involved in several discrimination lawsuits, notably involving both his copious real estate investments (with allegations that his rental philosophies fell…let’s just say shy of Fair Housing Act standards) as well as a high profile employment discrimination suit brought by former Clippers executive and Lakers legend Elgin Baylor, alleging racially charged remarks and disparate treatment along racial lines.  He allegedly called Baron Davis a bastard.  He has been involved in shady business practices.  He has been accused of racist statements on many occasions.  His fans find him creepy.  His posture is terrible.  But the lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine levied on Sterling, announced today by Silver in response to the outrage over recordings in which Sterling made racist remarks, is still fundamentally surprising.  After all, powerful people tend to squeak by these obstacles.  You rarely see heads roll when it comes to rich folk in the private sector.

“In this country, you’re guilty until you’re proven wealthy.”  — Bill Maher

Continue reading

Advertisements

Da Spurs

There has been an invisible war raging for a decade and a half, not unlike the invisible war being waged between spam messages and your email filter.  The San Antonio Spurs have been battling age, irrelevance, and history.  Somehow, the “boring,” un-hip, small market basketball team from central Texas has become the most historically fascinating sports franchise of our era.  In other words, they’re winning the war.

spurs2Photo credit:  Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images

As you probably know, players generally grow old, rosters turn over, and partnerships grow stale.  Teams fluctuate.  A team might be at the top of the league, then crash out of the playoffs, then stumble back in and lose in the first round a couple times, then lose in the Finals, then win a couple titles, then lose early for three years, then crash again and miss the playoffs with no relief in sight.  That’s the profile of the Lakers for the past twelve years or so.  They have been all over the place.  And that “all over the place” resume is easily one of the most successful teams in the entire NBA over that stretch.

Most teams are more like the Orlando Magic.  A few All Stars here and there.  Some coaches fired.  An unexpected Finals trip in 2009.  A few early and mid-playoff exits.  A few terrible years.  So it goes in a competitive league of 30 teams with a salary cap.

And then there are the Spurs. Continue reading

Mack the Nate

Exactly two NHL players have been born in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, a town of about 25,000 people on the Atlantic coast east of Halifax.  One is Sidney Crosby, among the superstars of his generation, and future Hall of Famer.  The other is Nathan MacKinnon.

MacKinnon, rookie for the upstart Colorado Avalanche, has been a standout at every level of hockey he has yet experienced.  He is quickly making a name for himself on the national stage in 2013-14 as the 18 year old phenom capable of handling a speeding puck more deftly than Garfield handles a lasagna:

MacKinnon

The lines and angles on that play are so perfect that they’d make an architect blush.  And it is what we have come to expect from MacKinnon, himself barely old enough to ride a motorcycle unsupervised.

Continue reading