This is one person’s unsubstantiated report of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling acting like a racist cretin, but the report comes from a respected reporter in Jeff Pearlman, and we’re always keen to remind you (as you dig in for another year of Clipper basketball) that Donald Sterling is on record as being a terrible, terrible person.
Prior to Elgin Baylor’s run as Clipper general manager, Sterling employed Paul Phipps as his GM. Phipps was attempting to hire Villanova coach Rollie Massimino in 1983 when Sterling, allegedly half-soused and with a companion he was only slightly familiar with, took over.
Anyhow, according to Phipps, Massimino boarded the jet, and when he landed in Los Angeles he exited the walkway and spotted Sterling. “They met,” said Phipps, “and between 3 and 4 in the morning my phone rings.” It was an irate Massimino. “I’m sorry,” he told Phipps, “but I’d never work for that son of a bitch. Ever.”
Phipps, half asleep, sat up on his bed and asked what went wrong. “Here’s this guy,” Massimino said, “and he has this blonde bimbo with him, they have a bottle of champagne, they’re tanked. And Don looks at me and he says, ‘I wanna know why you think you can coach these n******.’”
That would be the N-word, for those of you looking to go behind the asterisk. Again, all of this is a recount, but it’s not a stretch to consider Sterling – a man who celebrates Black History Month a day too late, and one that has been known to make unseemly and rotten comments in the Clipper locker room regarding African-American players – the sort of guy that would drop a word like that after downing a fair bit of spiked grape juice. We tend to agree with Ray Charles about drunken talk ending up in the papers, but this flies very close to the persona that Sterling has cultivated.
Again, this is just a report. Pearlman is a trusted scribe, but we’re in no way associating Sterling directly with these remarks. We’re just pointing out that, 30 years ago, a former co-worker directly associated Donald Sterling with getting drunk and using the N-word while talking to Rollie Massimino.
It’s just another thing to consider, especially for the millions of NBA fans that count the entertaining Los Angeles Clippers as their second favorite team. We’ll just leave it to you to determine how this affects your judgment of the oft-criticized, often-sued, Los Angeles Clippers owner.
NBA video from Yahoo! Sports:
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Rockets serve championship pitch at dinner with Dwight Howard
• Pacers' David West agrees to three-year extension
• NBA free-agent tracker