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Cirque du NBA

May 10, 2014

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense. For a list of subscribing radio stations, click here.]

Normally, JPAttitude avoids national stories that enter into the tabloid realm. What can a one-man operation possibly add to a titillating sex scandal that everybody else is covering 24/7?


Well, I'm hereby making an exception for the story about the racist owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. I don't have to research high-priced prostitutes in California to see the truth here, which is this: in spite of non-stop coverage for three straight weeks about surreptitiously-recorded racist comments, nobody seems to have noticed that the smell coming from the NBA is even stinkier than Donald Sterling.

Born in the 1950s, I grew up in West Michigan—the Grand Rapids area—and we're a simple decent kind of people here. Strongly influenced by Christian Reformed Dutch immigrants, there was a time when Grand Rapids supposedly had more churches per capita than any other city in the country. What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean we aren't sinners... but we feel awfully guilty about it afterward, doggone it. One incident in American history that pretty much describes the kind of people who live in West Michigan is the ascendancy of Gerald Ford to the presidency in 1974. When times were dark in Washington, D.C.—a vice president already lost to scandal and a president sinking fast—when the country needed a decent man more than a great speaker or charismatic politician, they turned to a man from Grand Rapids. Ford was the most boring public speaker who ever lived, but one thing even an opinionated obnoxious teenager like me couldn't deny was that he was decent and honorable.

(Feel sorry for me: Congressman Ford was the commencement speaker at my high school graduation and President Ford was the speaker at my college graduation.)

Watching the Sterling scandal unfold from the Land of Decency is like watching a science fiction movie about some sort of dystopian future where God's morality has been replaced by chaos. My first thought was: this man is married? How is this a scandal about the guy's racism when he's cavorting with a prostitute young enough to be his granddaughter, courtside, on national TV?

And it wasn't just journalists missing the point. The guy's wife was also mostly concerned about his racist comments. Mrs. Sterling, your husband made those comments to his prostitute girlfriend who sits in your seat at the basketball games. How is that not worse than what he said about bringing black people to the games?

And why are you still his wife? Apparently he's been doing this for decades!

Oh yeah, another thing: he's been a racist for decades, too, and the NBA knew about it. Yet did nothing.

Still, say what you want about the NBA, the one thing that was clear from the moment we heard Sterling's racist words was that the NBA controlled the high ground. Here's a serial wife-cheater lowlife making ignorant hurtful comments about black people. What could be worse than that, right? Well, sadly, there are people lower than that and the NBA set about lining them up to speak for them, thereby ceding the high ground almost immediately. The NBA players union hired Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson to fly down and appear alongside union president Chris Paul to help NBA players express their outrage. Kevin Johnson is a crooked politician accused of sexual misconduct with minors and the inspector general for Americorps filed a criminal referral for his misuse of federal funds. (Luckily for Kevin, he's friends with President Obama, who fired the inspector general instead of charging Kevin.)

You know what's worse than a racist billionaire owner of an NBA team? A crooked politician who rapes young girls. Kevin Johnson might be the only guy in America they could've brought in who's worse than Donald Sterling.

But wait, the NBA wasn't done. Magic Johnson was involved because he was in the picture that got Sterling going in the first place. Once the scandal broke, he expressed an interest in buying the team. Remember, this is a guy who admits cheating on his wife so often and so regularly that he ended up with AIDS. Then along came a third Johnson (or is it a fourth johnson, I'm losing count). Larry Johnson, across the country in New York, was so angry about Sterling's comments he announced that blacks should start their own league, no whites allowed.

Go ahead, Larry. What's stopping you?

After that, forget about the high ground. There is no high ground in this mess. As bad as Donald Sterling is, the NBA seems intent on looking worse. You know who showed up on the court for the Clippers first home game after the scandal started, to add his pontifications about morality and the evils of racism? Serial wife cheater Jesse Jackson, who refers to Jews as "Hymies" and calls New York "Hymietown." Good job, NBA. Just the guy you want on the court waxing self-righteous about bigotry.

Maybe this is a Los Angeles thing, this complete lack of dignity and morals. Like I said, we're sinners here in West Michigan, too, but we have enough decency to feel bad about it. And we have enough common sense not to call in Jesse Jackson as a spokesman. In LA, they seem to revel in immorality and even the nastiest characters are considered eligible to be spokesmen.

I'm a huge basketball fan and the NBA is having its most exciting playoffs ever, but this thing has cooled my ardor like a bucket of cold water in the face. Everybody involved seems to have lost his way so completely, so thoroughly, that I just feel sorry for them and it's hard to root for people you just feel sorry for.

That's... today’s dose of common sense.

"There are times when one would like to hang the whole human race, and finish the farce." — Mark Twain

"But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul." — Proverbs 6:32

From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

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