There’s always a bit of a strained dynamic between NBA players and owners, just like there is between management and labor in every company. One side wants to keep its costs down and make as big a profit as possible, the other side wants to get paid as much as it can. That said, the relationship in the NBA is usually amicable.
Then there was Donald Sterling.
The former Clippers owner is the definition of a racist — he used to bring his privileged friends (or people he wanted to impress) into the locker room after games while players were changing, at times telling his guests “look at their beautiful black bodies.” In 2009 Sterling paid $2.75 million to settle a federal housing discrimination lawsuit, discriminating against black tenants who wanted to rent from him. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Stories I was told off the record make that seem almost quaint.
Baron Davis was on ESPN’s The Hoop Collective podcast and was telling Donald Sterling stories. (Transcription via The Undefeated).
..it was almost like the movie “Get Out.” It was like you walking in training camp, dude, and everybody was like, ‘Yo, what the f— you so happy for?’ And I was like, ‘S—, we about to play a season.’ And it’s like, ‘Nah, he comin’.’
And when he came in, he just sittin’ there, I saw at that moment he had no respect for nobody. You know? He had no respect for nobody. He couldn’t look nobody in the eye. And everything he was saying to people was like stuff you never say to somebody on their first day at the job. And so, for me, he rubbed me wrong from the jump because I ain’t like it. And the way that the whole Clippers system was set up … it was set up to protect him. Protect him from the media. Protect him from us, from saying stuff to us….
I say the worst thing he probably did was when we lost a game and he came in the locker room. And he walked in the locker room and looked at me. He looked at everybody in the locker, and he went down the row, one by one, and he cussed everybody out. And he picked on Al Thornton, who was a rookie from Georgia. Who didn’t really know what was going on because Mike Dunleavy was puttin’ him out there to just tryna score. You know what I mean? And he dogged Al Thornton cold. And so that’s what I was like, ‘Hold on, dude. This dude ain’t right.’ Like, he don’t even know this kid … he just a kid.
Adam Silver working to push this owner out of the league when he had the chance — something David Stern never did — to this day remains one of Silver’s crowning achievements.
By the way, Baron Davis is going to be playing in the Big 3 next summer, another reason to turn into that league. Davis is as entertaining a player as the league has seen in a long time (when he was focused).