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Donald Sterling says he’ll pay Chris Paul, Blake Griffin max to keep them forever

Of all the owners in the NBA — and perhaps even professional sports in general — Donald Sterling has to be one of the dumbest. For the most part, he’s just a rich dude who owns a basketball team that he could care less about it. He does, however, insist he is going to make the right moves with his two biggest superstars. Now that the Clippers are relevant again, Sterling has to make sure Chris Paul and Blake Griffin stay with the team.

“Chris Paul will be with me for a lifetime,” Sterling said according to the L.A. Times. “And Blake will too. I’m not going to ever let these guys go. They are max players, and so you’re going to pay that and keep them.”

Griffin is a free agent after this year and Paul’s contract is scheduled to expire at the end of next season. Both will obviously require a max contract extension — which this year for Griffin would be a five-year, $95 million deal — but keeping two young superstars would give the Clippers the core they need for years to come.

As for whether or not it will actually happen, we all know it’s not that simple. When you have someone who has been known to do ridiculous things like this running the show, even the simplest matters can become complicated.

Photo Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

Baron Davis talks about Donald Sterling heckling: I just stopped liking basketball

Most athletes consider the heckling they hear from opponents to be annoying, but overall everyone knows it’s part of the game. As a professional athlete, you expect to be harassed and berated by opposing fans. When your own team’s owner starts to do it, however, it can be tough to handle. Considering Clippers owner Donald Sterling used to give him an earful as he was dribbling the ball up the court, Baron Davis knows how difficult it can be. In fact, the Knicks guard calls it one of the low points of his career.

“I just stopped liking basketball,” Davis said when discussing some of the tougher years of his career with the NY Post. “And then you’re dribbling down the court and having the owner like cuss at you and call you an idiot. I didn’t even look forward to coming to the games, and if the owner (Donald Sterling) came to the game, I definitely was not gonna have a good game because it was just like, how do you play when the main heckler in the gym is the owner of the team, and he’s telling you how much he hates you and calling out your name?”

When the story of Sterling taunting his own players broke a little over a year ago, Davis simply said he was “fighting unnecessary battles.” He was a Clipper then. Baron is a Knick now, and even though he was hoping to lead their back court before Linsanity came along I’m sure he’s glad to be away from one of the most idiotic owners in sports.

H/T I Am a GM
Photo via the SI Vault

Donald Sterling Had No Idea About Elgin Baylor’s Playing Career

We’ve been all over Donald Sterling watch here at LBS, so we weren’t about to let another fantastic story slip through the cracks. The lawsuit former Clippers GM Elgin Baylor has brought against the team alleging age discrimination is now being heard. On Tuesday, Sterling testified in court and gave some responses that should come as no shock to anyone who’s followed his story closely.

Asked about hiring Baylor initially, Sterling said he had no idea about the Hall of Famer’s legendary playing career and accomplishments. The LA Times’ Lance Pugmire described the exchange between Sterling and Baylor’s attorney:

“You didn’t know about his basketball career?” Baylor attorney Carl Douglas asked Sterling in his first day on the stand as Baylor’s wrongful termination civil lawsuit against the team continued at a Los Angeles courthouse. “His accomplishments? The Hall of Fame?”

“No,” Sterling answered. “… I didn’t know that. I hired him for $3,000 a month. I didn’t really know what his role was…. He was working in a mail-order company back then.”

Ordinarily I’d say there’s some legal strategy behind this denial from Sterling, but I actually wouldn’t be surprised if he’s telling the truth. He was on the stand when he said it, and as a businessman, it’s quite possible he wasn’t a sports fan. We’ve already talked about what a flake he is and how strange he is, so this shouldn’t even come as a shock.

The one area I will defend Sterling for is his patience with Baylor. Few GMs had a worse record than Elgin, yet he kept his job for 22 years. I find it hard to believe there was any discrimination going on — any other GM aside from Isiah Thomas would never have lasted 10 years with such poor performance. Baylor was lucky to be employed as a GM as long as he was, and if anyone should be examined it should be Sterling for leaving him in there so long.

(also via Matt Moore at CBS)

Elgin Baylor Drops Racial Discrimination Claim Against Donald Sterling

The lawsuit Elgin Baylor filed against the Los Angeles Clippers and owner Donald Sterling appears to be weakening. Sterling has been accused of racism multiple times in his tenure as Clippers owner.  Earlier this week, we questioned whether or not his Black History month ad — which was run in March instead of during Black History Month — was anything more than a PR stunt.  Baylor’s claim that Sterling had a “plantation mentality” in dealing with him as an employee is just one tidbit in an abundance of information that has turned people into skeptics.

On Friday, Baylor dropped the racial discrimination claim in his lawsuit against the Clippers.  The teams executive vice president and general manager from 1986-2008, Baylor filed a wrongful termination suit in February 2009 alleging wrongful termination due to his age and race.  According to Baylor’s attorney, Carl Douglas, the race claim was “going to survive” but Baylor chose to voluntarily dismiss it.  Like many of the racism accusations against Sterling, an ongoing game of “he said, she said” probably wasn’t going to cut it in the court room.

When you consider that Baylor worked for the Clippers for 22 years — four of which saw the team qualify for the postseason — it should come as no surprise that he voluntarily dropped the racial discrimination claim.  Proving age discrimination will also be a challenge considering he worked for the team into his 70s.

This is not the first racial discrimination suit against Sterling that has been settled, so a pattern has obviously developed over the years.  At this point, one has to either believe that Sterling is not a racist, or he’s just extremely effective in covering his tracks.

The Time Donald Sterling Walked out on the Anaheim Pond Mid-Meeting

Before the LA Clippers became one of the few NBA teams that appears to be doing well financially, there were times when they hardly drew fans to the outdated LA Sports Arena. It was then — 15 years ago — that they were considering playing their games at the Pond in Anaheim (currently named the Honda Center) full-time. They began playing games in Anaheim in 1994 after the Sports Arena was damaged in the Northridge earthquake, continued playing select games there the next few years, and always drew well attendance-wise.

It got to the point where in 1996 they were in negotiations to play there full-time. Of course the Clippers never moved to Anaheim, and they opened up Staples Center with the Lakers and Kings in 1999.

So what happened that kept the Clippers from moving to Anaheim if they were that close to making it official? A great story explains it all.

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Donald Sterling, Clippers Giving Away Tickets to Celebrate Black History Month

In one of the biggest ironies you could conceive, Clippers owner and notorious alleged racist Donald Sterling was pictured along with Blake Griffin in an ad celebrating Black History Month in the Sunday edition of the LA Times:

This is quite the clever marketing for a few reasons. First off, adults must accompany the children receiving the free tickets, so they have to purchase tickets themselves. Plus, you know children love food at the concessions, so this isn’t exactly a huge financial burden to the organization. The other big and more important reason why this is good marketing by the Clippers is because it portrays Sterling as a benevolent donor to the African-American community.

Sterling, as you well know, has taken a public beating regarding his alleged racism towards African Americans. He’s heckled his own players including Baron Davis, has been accused of many racial actions by former GM Elgin Baylor including having a “plantation mentality,” and he’s been alleged to bring women into the locker room and make comments such as “look at those beautiful black bodies.”

What better way to change his public image than by giving away 1,000 tickets to a game to underprivileged children in the name of Black History Month? If the real goal were to treat children to a game, then why wouldn’t he quietly donate the tickets to local elementary schools or Boys and Girls Clubs? How many underpriviliged children do you know who read the Sunday LA Times sports section and ask their parent to take them to the game? Make no mistake about it — this was a P.R. move every bit as much as it was a charitable action, so don’t get confused when you hear otherwise.

Donald Sterling Reportedly Said He Wanted to Fire David Stern

Right now we’re going to be taking a trip in the way back machine, but it should be fun. According to Mark Heisler of the LA Times, about a year or so ago at an owners meeting in Las Vegas, Commissioner David Stern (who in case you didn’t know, is employed by the owners), asked Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his opinion on a subject.

Heisler says three sources told him Sterling said “OK, I would fire you. You’re great at marketing, but you’re not tough enough with the union.”

And the legend continues. This coming from the same guy who heckles his own players and supposedly has no regard for their privacy. Given the league’s potential lockout looming, I’m guessing he’s not the only owner who feels that way, but should we be surprised by his reported brashness? We’ve learned to know better than that. Something tells me the long-standing curse over the franchise is not a coincidence (not that it matters to him since he’s making all the money).