Donald Sterling has been an out-of- the- closet Racist all his life, so why didn't the NBA do something about him long ago? Could it possibly be that Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Coach Doc Rivers and other African Americans employed by Stirling never heard even the slightest rumors about their boss? Didn't Elgin Baylor warn the general public and the NBA about Sterling's "Plantation Mentality" years ago? And, what in God's name, was the Southern California Chapter of the NAACP thinking that it was going to honor Sterling with a Life Time Achievement Award? Is this the same Sterling who wouldn't allow people of color to rent his apartments?
Talk about bizzare. This man has been a public bigot all his life and only now are we coming to grips with him.
Our country, in so many ways a great country, is still a long way away from racial equality. It has been a state by state slog. We tell yourselves the coasts do better about race, then a guy like Sterling raises his slimy head. How many Sterlings are there left in the United States? Way more than we'd like to think, I'm afraid.
When will racial prejudice end? I don't know, but I'm sure that at least the next three generations, starting with Sterling's generation, people in their 80's and 70's and the two following generations (my wife's and the baby boomers) must die off before the X generation has a chance to make the world color blind.
We human beings will be color blind to race only when we look at each other's skin color the way portrait painters do. They pay more attention to undertones, chroma, high lights and shadows than the skin's primary color, which is obvious. And all color is beautiful.
Adam Silver's tenure as commissioner of the NBA will be decided by how quickly and how forcefully he acts in resolving the Donald Sterling fiasco. If he prevaricates even slightly, he might as well resign.
So, as this grotesque Sterling story swirls around us, here is a poem I wrote for one of the great African American players of all time, Hall of Fame center, Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets.
Aka, Hakeem the Dream
In Africa each morning practice starts
with warm-ups. The youngest on the team,
perhaps sixteen, always the first waiting for me,
sits in the thin shade below the backboard,
reading the latest article about Hakeem.
We stretch ham-strings, then slow jog
around the court. He keeps pace, all the while
talking about The Dream. "Dis doc," he says, *Listen up
"With The Dream we would defeat Senegal
and be champions of West Africa.
Que pensez vous, entraineur? What do I think? *What do you think coach?
I can't think about anything other than the red
and smoky sun rising over the opposite basket,
the heat already sweating my shirt, and how
the rains suddenly begin half way through practice.
I shag his jump shots, the ones he swears
are like Hakeem's. He says he too will attend
The University of Houston, later play in the NBA.
"Vous m'assistez?" But his shots are ugly, too flat; *"Will you help/assist me?
they lack the back-spin, the softness of the Dream's.
I nod my head, whatever I can do - my best shot.
I am in the country of Burkina Fasso.
Its name means Land of Up-Right People.
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.