- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is Orlando Magic owner Richard DeVos “the next” one?

After the public firestorm over Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments, liberals in social media and journalism have targeted the devout Christian and wealthy co-founder of Amway for his support for the traditional definition of marriage.

“If the @NBA is cleaning house of bigoted owners, how about ORL DeVos,” tweeted “Sonicsgate,” who also described the owners of the Oklahoma City Thunder as “lying frackers & anti-gay donors.”

While many other people tweeted their disdain for Mr. DeVos, others figuratively rolled their eyes. “Oh [expletive deleted], here we go again,” a San Antonio Spurs fan named “Forzeens” tweeted Thursday.

The country has been buzzing all week over the sordid tale of Mr. Sterling and his biracial ex-girlfriend. On Saturday night, she recorded Mr. Sterling, an elderly, married billionaire, saying anti-black statements. The recording was published last week by the celebrity-chasing TMZ.

A firestorm erupted, and Mr. Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA, fined $2.5 million and pressured to sell his team.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban denounced Mr. Sterling’s racist statements — but added, “I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.”

Mike Bianchi, sports writer for the Orlando Sentinel, seized on that thought, asking whether Mr. DeVos will be “the next owner to be scrutinized for a stance that is considered biased and bigoted by some in this world?”

Esquire writer Charlie Pierce was more explicitly approving in an appearance on PBS.

“What does Adam Silver [NBA commissioner] now, do, for example, with the DeVos family, in Orlando, which funds anti-gay candidates, anti-gay issue ads all over the country, as well as owning the Orlando Magic?” he asked.

“This is an entirely new world. If we’re going to step into it, let’s step into it all the way,” Mr. Pierce concluded.

CNN host Rachel Nichols also highlighted where the snowball may fall next.

Mr. DeVos has “campaigned against gay rights” and says “gay people should stop asking for special treatment because they want to get married,” Ms. Nichols said Tuesday night. “There are a lot of people in this country who think that that is a problem,” and team owners will be in the spotlight now, not just the players and managers, she said.

Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh highlighted the Nichols clip as foreshadowing.

“So we just heard it, the next target,” said Mr. Limbaugh, who praised Mr. DeVos as “one of the greatest patriots this country has ever seen.”

In a segment on Mr. Devos on Thursday night, CNN factually referred to his opinions on homosexuality and contributions to marriage amendments as “controversial.”

For all the rhetoric, Mr. DeVos appears to be on solid footing. He is expected to join NBA owners in deciding whether to insist Mr. Sterling sell his ownership interest in the Clippers.

But since Mozilla co-founder Brandan Eich decided to resign to end the outcry over his 2006 donation of $1,000 to support a California amendment defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, the stage has been set for more political scalpings on gay marriage — or other controversial issues.

“Imagine a world where public opinion takes a sharp turn against say, fracking,” wrote Robert Silverman of the Daily Beast referring to the owners of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“The last thing Aubrey McClendon wants is a throng of pitchfork-wielding environmentalist protesters camping out in front of” the team’s arena.



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