Donald Sterling
Donald Sterling

Countdown to King of Content 2014: 7. Donald Sterling

So when is a punishment not really a punishment?

I think there are a few instances that are potential answers to this question. When your significant other announces that he or she wants a divorce, thereby releasing you from a loveless relationship...hardly a punishment, right?

How about Adrian Peterson, who we just got done typing about a few hours ago, whose punishment for being indicted on child abuse charges was eleven weeks of paid leave? Yes, he was technically not able to play football, but he did make around $8 million while he was out. Not a true punishment, not really.

And then there's the case of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who comes in at number 7 on our King of Content countdown for 2014...

It was back in late April, just as the Clippers were getting ready to try to make a deep run in the NBA postseason, when TMZ (who is honestly, probably the real "King of Content" in terms of generating it for all of us in radio this past year) released audio tapes of then Clippers owner Donald Sterling talking to his girlfriend/side-piece/archivist V. Stiviano.

And not just talking to her about what items to get at the grocery store or how Chris Paul looks in the pick and roll game with Blake Griffin. No, Sterling was dropping racial bombs...about the crowds at NBA games, about Stiviano taking pictures with Magic Johnson, about a whole lot of things that immediately put his tenure as the owner of a team in a predominately African-American league on an hourglass.

Here were those comments:

After taking over the reins from David Stern in February 2014, in his first order of business as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver had to make a decision on what to do with Sterling. In some ways, Silver was being forced to clean up a mess that his predecessor, Stern, had allowed to linger for years. Everyone in the NBA knew Donald Sterling was a racist. There are reams of documents in court cases outlining decades of his discriminatory housing policies as a slumlord in southern California.

But, much like the video of Ray Rice's punching his wife making the amorphous cloud of "domestic violence" into a much sharper visual image, these recordings did the same with Sterling's racism. We actually heard him saying racist things. Spew them actually, as if it were commonplace for him. Oh, and he said them about Magic Johnson, which in NBA circles, may as well be like peeing on the king's robe.

So what was Silver's punishment? Donald Sterling would be forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, which after months of fighting and bickering and millions in legal fees, he did, selling the team to former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer for around $2 billion. Sterling bought the team in the late 70's for a highly leveraged $13 million.

So I go back to my original question...when is a punishment not really a punishment? When your transgressions "force" you to make a $2 billion profit on selling an asset.

That's when.


April 28, 2014: Twitter Reacts to Donald Sterling's Racist Remarks by Going After Riley Cooper

April 29, 2014: Definitive Video Anthology of the Donald Sterling Situation

May 1, 2014: Donald Sterling Hanging Out in Beverly Hills Like Nothing Happened

May 16, 2014: Donald Sterling Describes Sex With V. Stiviano: "She Was an Animal"

May 30, 2014: Donald Sterling's Punishment: Selling the LA Clippers for $2 Billion

June 11, 2014: Donald Sterling Revives His Lawsuit Against the NBA

June 20, 2014: Angry Donald Sterling Leaves Voice-Mail Messages for His Doctor

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >