Tag: Elgin Baylor

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Elgin Baylor’s lawsuit against Donald Sterling shot down by jury


Clippers Donald Sterling is still a despicable human being. A man with a laundry list of offenses of offenses from the serious (racial housing discrimination) to just screwing up his NBA team. This has not changed.

But he has won key court battle.

A jury Wednesday rejected a $2 million lawsuit brought by former Clippers GM Elgin Baylor seeking damages for being fired due to age discrimination, the Los Angeles Times reports.

It’s hard to argue, with the Clippers record over the last couple decades, that Baylor was a good GM who could not have been dismissed for cause. You can see the defense attorney and jury’s point there, even though you can also question how much real power Baylor had during parts of his tenure.

What this lawsuit did was peel back the curtain a little more on Sterling and the Clippers, and everyone cringed in disgust. While Blake Griffin distracts us, the team is still run by the worst owner in professional sports. And despite how we want to see Griffin and the Clippers succeed, you fear all that Sterling is and does will somehow come back to haunt the team.

Because the one real constant in the decades of Clippers futility is Sterling. And that is not changing.

Donald Sterling sounds out of touch, disinterested at trial

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Clippers owner Donald Sterling did not sound like a cold hearted, penny pinching, racist on the witness stand of a trail Tuesday.

He sounded clueless and disinterested, however.

Elgin Baylor — Lakers legend and Clipper employee for more than two decades — is suing Sterling for age discrimination for Baylor’s firing as team general manager last year. Sterling was on the stand Tuesday and among the “highlights” courtesy the Los Angeles Times are:

• “I don’t profess to know anything about basketball. I’m a professional lawyer.”

• Sterling said he had no idea who Elgin Baylor was when he hired him, didn’t know he was a player included in the NBA’s 50 greatest of All-Time.

“No,” Sterling answered. “… I didn’t know that. I hired him for $3,000 a month. I didn’t really know what his role was…. He was working in a mail-order company back then.”

• Sterling continually sounded like someone disassociated from what was going on within the Clipper organization.

As for what he recalls about Baylor taking over basketball matters, the owner said, “[Baylor] … ultimately made $500,000 a year. Somewhere in between, he assumed that role.”

• “Elgin Baylor wouldn’t tell me the players he was drafting. He was afraid I’d tell another owner,” Sterling testified.

New legal filings against Clippers should make Blake Griffin cry

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Any time you feel yourself start to nod in agreement when someone says, “You know, with Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, the Clippers are a team on the rise,” come back and read this post.

ESPN got a hold of more legal filings in former Clipper GM Elgin Baylor’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the team and Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and published excerpts at TrueHoop. (Very possibly Baylor’s team of attorneys leaked the papers as they futilely try to embarrass the Clippers into settling the matter.)

Those documents paint the picture we all know exists — Sterling is an owner that cares about profit far more than winning.

(Former coach and GM Mike) Dunleavy said that Sterling “always told me to give him a great player and he’d pay for him, but there were several players I wanted to sign and we didn’t because Sterling refused to spend the money. The Clippers’ biggest concern was making a profit.”

All of Baylor’s comments came with a racial overtone because he has said that played a factor in his being let go.

“Because of the Clippers unwillingness to fairly compensate African-American players we lost a lot of good talent, including Danny Manning, Charles Smith, Michael Cage, Ron Harper, Dominique Wilkins, [Corey] Maggette and others,” Baylor said.

The latest documents include Dunleavy talking about how Baylor became marginalized within the organization while holding on to the title of GM and being a face of the franchise. Then there is the ugly, sensational part of what was leaked.

“While ignoring my suggestions and isolating me from decisions customarily reserved for general managers, the Clippers attempted to place the blame for the team’s failures on me,” Baylor said in the declaration. “During this same period, players Sam Cassell, Elton Brand and Corey Maggette complained to me that DONALD STERLING would bring women into the locker room after games, while the players were showering, and make comments such as, ‘Look at those beautiful black bodies.’ I brought this to Sterling’s attention, but he continued to bring women into the locker room.”

Combine that with Sterling heckling Baron Davis from courtside seats, and you get a picture of how this franchise is really run.

Right now there is a real national buzz about the Clippers, and it has been a long time since you could say that. People across the land are tuning in to see Griffin play basketball — he is an attraction, a storyline, a show unto himself.

This is not going to end well with Griffin. It’s just not. The history of Sterling and Clippers is littered with chances like this that all go by the wayside. This ultimately will be no different.

In case you forgot, Donald Sterling can be an embarrassment

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Donald Sterling. While other owners strive to reach his level he remains to gold standard.

Well, maybe the coal standard. Or, um, fertilizer standard.

Let’s ignore his Clippers slow start on the court — they are entertaining and show some promise in spite of everything — and talk about him off the court. Remember that former general manager Elgin Baylor is suing Sterling for wrongful termination? Well, some papers from the deposition come out that make you shake your head.

Courtesy Lisa Dillman at the Los Angeles Times, there is this:

In court papers, Baylor said that Jim Brewer, then an assistant with the Clippers, wanted the chance to interview for the head coaching job after Bill Fitch was dismissed following the 1997-98 season.

“I believe he [Sterling] was a little reluctant at first but I said, ‘We owe him that courtesy.’ So we go there and we sit down and Brewer starts talking about his qualifications, that he believed he could do the job of being the head coach,” Baylor said in court papers.

“And when he finished, Donald said something that was very shocking to me. He said, ‘Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players. And I was shocked. And he looked at me and said, ‘Do you think that’s a racist statement?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. That’s plantation mentality.”

Or this.

The deposition also touches on the Danny Manning contract negotiations, which were mentioned in the initial court papers filed by Baylor’s legal team in 2008.

Manning was the No. 1 draft pick overall in the 1988 draft. Baylor, in the deposition, incorrectly said it was the 1989 draft. Negotiations became contentious and Baylor spoke about a meeting at Sterling’s house among Manning and his representatives and Clippers officials.

When Manning’s agent told Sterling that the offer was unacceptable, Sterling responded by saying it was a lot of money.

Said Baylor, in the deposition: “Donald T. said, ‘Well that’s a lot of money for a poor black … ‘ — I think he said kid. For a poor black kid I think. For a poor black something, kid or boy or something. Poor black. Poor black.

“Danny was upset. So Danny just stormed out. He just stormed out of the place. Where he went, I don’t know. He never came back to the house.”

These are the most recent examples in a long and sadly similar list from a variety of lawuits that swirl around Sterling. There is nothing more to say about the man.

Phil Jackson: Miami has talent, but will they have teamwork?


Thumbnail image for pjackson_finals.jpgPhil Jackson knows a little something about winning titles.

He knows there are two parts to getting a ring. First is having enough talent on the roster. Second is what Jackson has specialized in — molding that talent into a cohesive team.

Jackson told ESPN 1000 in Chicago that Miami now has half of the equation, but the other half remains to be seen.

“They got great talent,” Jackson said in an interview with ESPN 1000 in Chicago. “There’s no question about their talent they have. But, talent doesn’t always win. The team that shows the best teamwork will win it. We think that [the Lakers] have established something. But, if [the Heat] can unite — and build quickly — they might be able to do it…”

“I always refer to when Wilt Chamberlain was traded from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and that put [Elgin] Baylor, [Jerry] West and Chamberlain together — three of the top scorers in NBA history — and they never won a championship together the four years they were together,” Jackson said.

“It’s not always scorers and talent that wins it. But it’s teamwork that does it.”

The Lakers and the Celtics (and even the Magic) have proven they are teams, with talented players willing to sacrifice toward a common goal. How fast Miami learns to do that — and do it in the pressure cooker of the playoffs — will determine how quickly they win an NBA title.