Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fortunate Moments for Unfortunate Franchises: A Fictional Obituary for Donald Tokowitz, aka Donald T. Sterling

Thursday June 1, 2017
Los Angeles Times

Donald Sterling, real estate mogul, Los Angeles Clippers owner, and unrelenting racist passed away Monday at the age of 84. Sterling began life in Chicago, Illinois in 1933 as Donald Tokowitz, before his family moved to Los Angeles when he was two. In 1960 he graduated from law school, and began to build his fortune in real estate. Sterling bought the then-San Diego Clippers in 1981 at the ominous suggestion of LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss, and moved them to Los Angeles.

To put it lightly, controversy, usually of his own making, has followed Sterling every step of his life. He settled a lawsuit accusing him of driving black and Latino tenants out of his apartments in what Judge Dale Fisher called “one of the largest ever [settlements] obtained in this type of case.” At the time of his death he was being sued by the US Department of Justice for housing discrimination, and was alleged to have said “black tenants smell and attract vermin.” Despite a pledge in 2006 to build a $50 million homeless center, as of his death construction hadn’t even been planned, let alone started.

Sterling has shown a similar lack of judgment and empathy for human beings in his dealings with Clippers personnel. He was sued by longtime general manager Elgin Baylor, widely-regarded as one of the nicest men in the NBA, for employment discrimination. In 2004 his head coach Kim Hughes was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and Sterling refused to pay $70,000 for an out-of-network procedure. A group of former Clippers eventually paid for the procedure. It was also revealed that Sterling often heckled his own players from courtside seats.

Sterling’s success in the real estate market did not translate into a modicum of expertise in managing an NBA franchise. Before former commissioner David Stern gave all-star point guard Chris Paul to the Clippers, they had only made the playoffs four times in Sterling’s thirty years of ownership, advancing past the first round just once. Until 2008 the team’s practices were often cut short by the El Segundo Scorpion’s, a 55-and-over rec league team, because the Clippers’ “practice facility” was a local health club. When Sterling did shake his penchant for thriftiness, he displayed an utter inability to identify talent. For some inexplicable reason it took seven years for Sterling to recognize that Mike Dunleavy Sr. was a poor choice for a coach, and he similarly stuck with Vinny Del Negro for four years, leading to Chris Paul signing as a free agent with the Philadelphia 76ers. He needlessly splashed out money for Cory Maggette, Cuttino Mobley, Tim Thomas, Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, and DeAndre Jordan, with only Elton Brand and Blake Griffin coming anywhere close to justifying their big money deals.

Sterling is survived by his wife of 60 years, Shelly Stein, and three children. While initial reports state that, to the dismay of most NBA observers, ownership of the Clippers will stay within the family, there are also rumors that an ownership group headlined by Magic Johnson and the recently retired Paul Pierce are interested in purchasing the team. The Sterling family will likely be pressured to sell the team by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who, unlike his predecessor David Stern, has seemed uncomfortable with the fact that an NBA franchise, in one of the premier NBA cities, was owned by a racist.

Outpourings of grief across the NBA have been muted, with Miami Heat owner Mickey Dolan saying “it is always sad when people pass” and Blake Griffin, who was widely assumed to be heading to his hometown Oklahoma City Thunder as a free agent, remarking “maybe there is a future for me in Los Angeles after all.”

Memorial services were originally slated to be held Saturday at the Staples Center, but the Disney on Ice: Princess Classics show refused to push back their start time, so services will be held at Hillside Memorial Park and Mortuary at 2 PM.

If it was not abundantly clear, the above piece is satire, and not an actual prediction of what the future will hold, nor an intention to cause any of the above actions to occur. While The Diss. feels that Donald's Sterling's history shows him to be a horrible person, we do not actually wish death upon him, only this stupid 76ers-Celtics series.

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