I hope the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP realizes it may have to reset its own reputation button.
The civil rights group was about to twice crown a businessman with its lifetime achievement award, but had to pull the honor.
The man many of us know today as Donald Sterling did not come into the world with that name. Born Donald Tokowitz in 1934 Chicago of immigrant Jewish parentage, he tagged Sterling as his last name long before the Clippers became the second NBA franchise in Los Angeles.
The late Jack Kent Cooke, who owned three L.A. sports franchises, including the Lakers, before buying the Redskins, played a hand in Mr. Sterling's ownership of the Clippers, to give you another juicy nugget in the unfolding mistitled saga, "Donald Sterling is a racist."
If he weren't a racist or already said and proven so, nobody would hear the man.
The reaction following TMZ's release of a audio tape of Mr. Sterling's racially-scorching conversation with a female consort is fast and furious.
Do as you please, he tells the woman not his wife, just don't bring black dudes to the stadium and, for God's sake, do not post photos of you and them.
For sure, the married Mr. Sterling is in a fix, having scored two women.
And words are tumbling from the mouths of both his sweeties — estranged wife Rochelle AKA "Shelly," mother of his children who has filed a lawsuit against V. Siviano, whose many aliases can make you wonder if Mr. Tokowitz, er, um, Mr. Sterling, even knows who she really is.
There's no question that Ms. V. is a looker, though not a sumptuous babe-type who would accompany the must-read stories in Playboy or who would be posed to illustrate the how-to-swim-without-touching-the-water text in, say, Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issues.
Mrs. Sterling looks pretty darn good, too, for someone who's old enough to be the mother of V., birthed three children, lived through one son's death and hung in there following the unadulterated antics of a philandering husband.
When the sidelined Mrs. Sterling sat on the sidelines of the Clippers' game Sunday, a woman watching the game at home with me remarked, "I wouldn't be at the game. I would have been in my lawyer's office making sure I had signed no prenup. The gold digger would have to stand in line behind me."
Mrs. Sterling's lawsuit claims that V. used her womanly wiles to rip off her husband and the family's jewels — and while I haven't read the court documents, it's fair to assume Mrs. Sterling means V. did more than bat her eyelashes and flip her tresses to be on the receiving end of luxury goodies from her estranged billionaire husband.
Then again, perhaps Mr. Sterling wants to humiliate his sweeties — his wife for calling V. a thief and V. for flaunting her stuff like a reality TV basketball wife.
Not a whole helluva lot of good is going to come from the Sterling drama. A family is torn asunder, a sports franchise and sports league might not rise to the occasion, and no matter where NBA Commissioner Adam Silver throws down the gauntlet, the legal battle and name-calling — begun because Mr. Sterling allowed a woman not his wife to gain the upper hand — will likely continue.
The scorned women know he cannot be trusted.
Players, coaches and fans know, too.
As do the other 29 NBA team owners.
Who knows what they will do?
The NAACP is a different matter.
The last time dust kicked up around a major NAACP anniversary, the 50th of the Brown v. Board of Education celebration in Washington, it took the storied group a long time to come to grips with Bill Cosby's commentary.
This year marks the 60th anniversary.
Mr. Sterling was the only man or woman in all of Greater Los Angeles worthy of a lifetime award?
Deborah Simmons can be reached at email@example.com.
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