Powerful force brings down Sterling
NBA Share

Powerful force brings down Sterling

V. Stivano managed what NBA, lawyers and city of San Diego failed to accomplish

Photo: V. Stivano leans over courtside next to Donald Sterling.

Bravo, V. Stiviano — or whatever your real name is — for bringing down Donald T. Sterling, the soon-to-be-former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.

She did to Sterling what he has done throughout his adult life — screw people.

Many men — NBA officials, lawyers and sportswriters churning out columns ridiculing Sterling for three decades — have tried with forthright measures to humiliate Sterling into disappearing. To a man, they all failed to prevent him from ignoring them and smugly flaunting his wealth and power on the NBA stage.

It took the most powerful force in the universe (rhymes with wussy) to separate Sterling from his team. The NBA is on the processing of forcing him to do what he has refused to do — sell his team.

It took a woman — no matter what we think of her — to ensure the first sentence in Sterling’s obituary will label him a bigot.

The municipality of San Diego tried to point out Sterling’s sins when he bought the team in 1981 and deliberately ran it into the ground in order to make the claim of a lack of fan support so he could move the team to Los Angeles in 1984. The city failed, but thanks to Stiviano the world — this is a global sport — now understands Sterling is a snake.

She has accomplished more than NBA lawyers that failed to enforce a $25 million fine levied against Sterling for moving the team to L.A. Sterling and his fellow snakes for lawyers beat the NBA, forcing them to settle for a $6 million fine.

She successfully managed to have Sterling widely labeled a racist, something the federal government failed to convey nationally when it forced Sterling to pay $2.7 million in penalties as a settlement for discriminatory housing practices.

She forced the NBA to acknowledge it had coddled Sterling as if he was a crazy 81-year-old uncle locked in a closet rather than recognize the federal government had revealed him to be a racist. No matter what the NBA says, it lumped together Sterling’s past transgressions that failed to resonate with the public. Sometimes the American public has to be hit over the head with a 2-by-4; this is one of those times.

The results of her actions led the NAACP to withdraw its plans to present Sterling with a “second” lifetime achievement award that he had bought with donations.

She has had Sterling banned from those courtside seats where he sat smugly in the elegant Staples Center. If I was NBA commissioner Adam Silver, I’d have Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan — accompanied by under-privileged students — fill Sterling’s courtside seats.

She prompted Republicans and Democratic politicians to agree on something — Sterling is a racist. Some of those same Republicans have spewed outrageous slurs against our President merely because he’s black.

Sterling doesn’t do interviews, but she apparently duped Sterling into what President Obama explained was a sure-fire way for a person to reveal his true nature: Let him talk. Obama responded to reports of Sterling’s comments by saying, “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything. You just let them talk. And that’s what happened here.”

She turned Donald Sterling into a stronger synonym for bigot than Archie Bunker (humor got across Bunker’s racist heart; there’s nothing funny about Sterling).

Some people point out that Stiviano is a gold digger. They allege she surreptitiously made public a tape of a private conversation.

And their point is?

I don’t recall being part of a private conversation with someone uttering Sterling’s vile words. And I don’t recall being a in a circle of friends who would allow the conversation to continue and or subsequently protect such a person by sweeping their words under the rug. What kind of people would point to such a defense of Sterling to absolve him of his racist heart? Maybe people who think the same way as him.

I acknowledge saying things I regret, but nothing approaching Sterling’s scale of bigotry. I may end up having to apologizing for something I said, but I won’t be forced to sell my property.

As Ed Sherman of The Sherman Report pointed out, social media propelled the Sterling story viral and generated the response that led to his demise.

Maybe social media would have pushed Sterling’s previous transgressions into public debate and spared us this sobering 2014 comment on racism in America.

She may be the lesser of two devils, but I still say, “Bravo, V. Stiviano.

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and Chargers.com. He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer, MLB.com, Rivals.com and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."