Larry Johnson – who played for the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks and worked for the Knicks at least until Phil Jackson’s hiring – has thoughts on Donald Sterling:
Johnson’s comments will certainly be mocked. The “He Should have Who ever he wants at the game” strikes me as particularly backward.
And I definitely want to see basketball’s top league remain integrated. I’d much prefer we work toward an NBA with a better grasp of its racial issues rather than falling into a separate-but-equal situation that has never worked.
But understand where Johnson is coming from.
A majority of NBA owners are white. This is not a coincidence.
Because of America’s long history of racism, more-recent moves toward equality have not come close to closing the wealth gap between whites and blacks. A system initially implemented hundreds of years ago has made it so whites in this country are still much more likely to have enough money to buy an NBA team.
And in a league where a majority of the players are black, that creates a certain dynamic. As Sterling allegedly demonstrated in the recordings, at least one NBA owner runs his team with a planation mentality. Sterling allegedly said of his players:
I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?Do I know that I have – who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?
That is not a healthy attitude. “Give”? Give me a break. Sterling pays his players for their work, like any employee. If he doesn’t view it that way, it’s a byproduct of a larger – and troubling – culture that views blacks as less than whites.
Can you blame Johnson for not wanting to be a part of that?