Donald Sterling wants to be seen, to be remembered as a good man.
He doesn’t see himself as a bad person (does anybody themselves as evil outside the pages of a comic book?), and over the years he has long donated a lot of money to charities in Los Angeles — so long as he could be seen doing it. (There were also the promises he made and ads taken out to congratulate himself on things like a Skid Row project for the homeless, which he never bothered to actually build.) Tuesday night Sterling was at a benefit for the Shelter Partnerships, which helps the homeless in Los Angeles County.
That’s where Fred Roggin, the long time sports anchor for NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate, caught up with Sterling and got to speak with him. Roggin asked him how he was doing and it led to this exchange:
Sterling: “I feel fabulous. I feel very good. Everything is just the way it should be, really. It may have worked out differently but it’s good. It’s all good.”
Roggin: “So you’re done, you’re okay?”
Sterling: “(Pause) Well, I’m okay. Is the NBA okay, I’m not sure about them. Is Adam Silver okay? I’m sure he’s okay.”
Roggin: “So now you move on with your life?”
Sterling: “Move on.”
Good on Roggin for not letting Sterling walk off without answering questions.
You also know that whatever Sterling says on camera, he’s not ready to move on.
Sterling’s attorney told the Los Angeles Times recently it’s not about the money or the team anymore with Sterling, it’s about his reputation. He doesn’t want to be seen as a racist (so he’s attending a famous predominantly black church in Los Angeles) and he doesn’t want to be seen as mentally incapacitated (which is what his wife Shelly Sterling got doctors to say, removing his power from the Sterling Family Trust and allowing her to sell the team to Steve Ballmer… all with the NBA’s guidance). That may be an out — would Donald Sterling sign off on the sale of the team if she got the doctors to say he was competent?
It’s hard to say. Much like this interview. Because whatever Sterling says to the camera, whatever he says to someone’s face in public, how he acts and reacts privately has long been very different.