J.J. Redick came to the Clippers last summer as part of the three-team deal that included the Bucks and the Suns, but he was a free agent, so L.A. would need to agree to a sign-and-trade that would lock Redick up for the next several seasons.
It was a good deal for everyone involved, as the Clippers wouldn’t be able to afford Eric Bledsoe the following year when he became a restricted free agent, and Redick would help the contending Clips immediately should he be able to continue his sharp-shooting ways.
Apparently, though, the team’s now disgraced owner Donald Sterling almost let the deal fall apart due to his temporary unwillingness to hand out a long-term contract to Redick, perhaps due solely to the color of his skin.
From Sam Amick of USA Today:
Sterling, the man whose racist comments sparked this whole furor, was believed to have had concerns about paying a white player that kind of money. He had once given white center Chris Kaman a five-year, $52 million deal, and how that contract panned out (or didn’t, as Kaman played 195 games in the next four years of that deal and was traded to New Orleans with a year and a half left) appeared to be coloring Sterling’s judgment on this deal. In a way, it was a mirror-image of the issue that would be front and center 10 months later.
“I’ve been told both ways: one, that he didn’t want to pay me because I was white, and that he didn’t want to pay me because I was a bench player,” Redick said. “I didn’t know (the deal almost fell apart) until after the fact. I just got a weird phone call from Doc on July 4, and I got off the phone and said to my wife, ‘Something’s going on.’ He’s like, ‘You better play for me (expletive).’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the plan. We figured this out two days ago, right?’
“And then he just rambled a bit. … but he never really got into the nuts and bolts of what was happening. And then I got a call about 48 hours later from my agent, and he said, ‘We wanted to keep you out of it, but here’s what happened.'”
Now that Sterling is gone, we can expect more and more stories like this to come to the surface. There’s a long history of this behavior, most of it having been buried due to his position of power within the organization.
That’s no longer the case, and Redick deserves a fair amount of credit here for being forthcoming about how Sterling’s racism almost affected him in a major way, and all because he happens to be a basketball player who’s white.