Tom Tolbert: Donald Sterling said I was big and strong enough to compete with the blacks
One of the biggest reasons NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the league for life is because the Clippers owner has a long history of racist actions beyond what was caught on the audio recording. This was not a first, second or third strike for Sterling, but concrete proof of decades of alleged racist behavior.
In fact, former NBA player/current Bay Area sports radio talk show host Tom Tolbert says what surprised him weren’t Sterling’s comments, but that so many people were surprised by them. Tolbert, who spent 7 seasons in the NBA including one with the Clippers, thought everyone already knew Sterling was a racist.
“People know how I feel about him who have listened to any portion of the radio show over the last 16 years. He’s a BOOB, is what he is,” Tolbert said of Sterling. “He’s a racist. He’s a bigot. I was just shocked that more people either didn’t know, or feigned that they didn’t know. I thought that was common knowledge.
“I always felt like he treated players as commodities. When he introduced me at a golf tournament — you know, sponsors are there and stuff – I had just signed that year and he brings me up there and he introduced me to the people. And he starts grabbing my arm, like, ‘This is our new power forward, look at how big and strong he is.’
“And he was testing my biceps and shoulders and my back. And like he tells me how big and strong I am, and he said, ‘You’re big and strong. You’ll be able to compete with the blacks.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ I wasn’t even sure I had heard it right. Like, ‘What are you talking about?’
“I wanted zero, ZERO to do with him when I was there,” said Tolbert.
Tolbert also described Sterling as a Hollywood jock-sniffer and said he was his least-favorite owner by far.
“I was probably even more stunned that more people were stunned than weren’t, because I thought this was something everyone knew,” Tolbert said of the racist comments.
Tolbert’s right — many people around the NBA knew about this. But it’s still so shocking and appalling when you hear in your face. It’s one thing to hear someone relate a story second-hand, but hearing it for yourself is a complete other thing.