Silent yet powerful

NBA players show how to effectively deal with controversy

Story by Nick Erickson, Managing Editor

Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s name has become the most recognizable one in the U.S. in a matter of days. And not for a good reason.
We’ve all heard the story by now. TMZ leaked a conversation between a man believed to be Sterling and his Hispanic/black girlfriend about how he is uncomfortable with her associating with African-Americans and how he doesn’t want people of that race at his team’s games.
And we’ve also probably heard of how NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the league for life, and how these types of comments don’t belong in society and all of that. So I’m not going to bore with more of that commentary.
Instead, I want to take a glimpse into how the NBA players handled this situation and why not only athletes, but people in general should look to the way these men dealt with controversy as a model for similar scenarios.
Sterling’s racist comments were made public on Saturday, a day before his Clippers had a pivotal playoff game against their rival Golden State Warriors.
And many people, including ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, were appalled the Clippers didn’t boycott the game until Sterling was banned from the league. The Clippers, a team better known as Lob City, were all of a sudden put into the fire for something completely out of their control.
Let’s not forget that this one man is simply one figure in an organization employing hundreds of people. At the head of the organization are three of the NBA’s biggest faces in head coach Doc Rivers, point guard Chris Paul and high-flying forward Blake Griffin, all of who are African-American and have been model citizens throughout their careers.
But as these three have done since their time in the league, they put the fans and players first instead of making a political statement that would put the game in jeopardy.
They decided to play that game Sunday to prove the Los Angeles Clippers organization won’t back down from a stranglehold situation.
But they also didn’t ignore the situation, either, as the players wore their warmup shirts inside out so the Clippers logo wouldn’t be visible at the start of the game.
Think of what would have happened if the Clippers decided not to suit up and essentially forfeit a playoff contest.
These players are not just stars on the court, they’re role models for millions of kids worldwide who face the exact same kind of racist, bigot attitudes and personalities such as Sterling.
If Lob City forfeited the game, it would have given the message of stopping when the trying gets hard. Yes, it would have been a statement. But it also would have if the Clippers decided not to do the jobs that so many people look up to.
Instead, they silently protested and went out to continue the work they do on the court and not let anybody’s obstacles stand in their way. They let higher authorities take care of that business, and Silver sacked Sterling without the Clippers having to boycott.
That’s how adversity needs to be dealt with all the time. When some outside force strikes, people need not to lie down and quiver, but stand even taller.
I’ve always been a fan of the Clippers because they provide me a lot of YouTube videos with their fast-pace offense and dunks. But I’m even more of a fan now after watching their entire organization from coaches to players to fans for handling this situation the right way and letting their willingness to work and persevere overcome an obstacle.
Well done, Lob City, well done. Now let’s see those outside the sports world take a similar stand.