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In the summer of 1968, athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on a medal stand with their black-gloved fists held firmly in the air as the American flag raised and “The Star-Spangled Bannner” played in the background. As the world watched the Olympics in Mexico City, Smith and Carlos sent an explosive message that shed light on racial injustice in America.

The moment forced those who held power in the U.S. to take a deeper look at themselves and racial disparities.

One year earlier, Muhammad Ali was willing to lose his title belts and face a ban from boxing because he didn’t believe in being involved with the Vietnam War.

Nearly 45 years later, the L.A. Clippers team had a chance to make a similar statement in the wake of Donald Sterling’s latest racist maneuver. On the morning when Sterling’s disgusting comments were released, several Clippers players contemplated boycotting game 4 of their playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. However, after a team meeting, Doc Rivers and the players decided to play the game, which will be held in Oakland, Calif.

Rivers and several other sports commentators suggested that playing the game would be a choice to continue on the path for an NBA championship.

Indeed, the Clippers have worked hard all year to get to their position. However, they made the wrong decision by agreeing to play the game on Sunday.

Sterling’s infamy didn’t start with a voice recorded by a woman he dated. For nearly 30 years, he has shown racist attitudes. He discriminated against minority tenants; he was quoted as saying blacks “smell, they’re not clean” and “Mexicans sit around and smoke and drink all day”; and he was accused of racism by his former GM, Elgin Baylor.

For years, NBA commissioner David Stern and other team owners ignored Sterling’s racist attitudes and allowed him to exist in a league that should’ve gotten rid of him years ago. But he has become a problem so big that it takes a drastic reaction to ensure that he, and others like him, are dealt with properly.

A financial fine doesn’t hurt Sterling because he’s a billionaire. If he’s suspended from games, it doesn’t matter because he can find leisure on the golf course until his suspension is complete. It’s nearly impossible for the NBA to force him to sell the team without going through a strenuous lawsuit.

However, the players and the coach, hold the power. If Doc Rivers, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin made the conscious decision to sit out game 4 of the playoffs, it would’ve made a bigger statement than any fine or suspension. Without the players, the NBA doesn’t have a product.

A one-game boycott would’ve forced the NBA to act swiftly instead of the disappointing  “due process” that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver suggested.

Rivers, Paul and the other Clippers have decided to play to complete their mission of winning a championship. But if they happen to win, Sterling, a known racist, will be the biggest winner of them all.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents music, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

  • kelly

    that is true .. its a shame how power and prestiege can take prevelance over morals and justified standard , this racist will profit off the backs of the same team that he hate and dispise . .. if your working a restaurant and the owner is prejudice and continue to use offensive comment to you you sue .. end of story and win with proof of racism … like paula deen got shut down … THE ISSUE HERE IS THIS IS A BILLIIONAIR WITH MONEY TO HUSH UP ANY ONE HE WANTS ACCEPT A MAN LIKE MAJIC JOHNSON WHO HAS PLENTY MONEY TO. …. NO one has come out an spoke out yet even ..you cant expect a bunch of athletes who , have to rely on drafte from free agent ., or draft period to fight with this man … it will take a stand by the NAACP . OR BLACK PANTHER GROUP , OR ANY CIVIL RIGHT GROUP … SINCE THE MAJORITY OF PLAYER HE OFFENDED ARE BLACK …. EACH TEAM ONLY HAS 4% WHITE PLAYERS … dirk kovenski being famous as larry bird big deal/? i say hit him in his gutt , his pocket you cant break him but you can show him the NBA HAS no room for biggots and kkk members …………….. never in history has it gotten this bad ….. that was the worst comment i ever hear quote …HE DONT WANT BLACKS COMING TO HIS GAMES? WHO THE HELL DO HE THINK HIS WRINKLE ALMOST IN A GRAVE ASS….TURKEY NECK
    FOOL ….. I SWEAR WE HAVE TO STAND AS A RACE AND STOP THIS TYPE OF HIDDEN RACISM … . they should have checked him the first time when the man caught him , being racist sayiing shit about black smell, and mexicans lazy …..
    well there goes all the mexican fans … TRUST ME MEXICANS STICK TOGETHER AND IT MAY BE THEM WHO BRING HIM DOWN … . they do attend games more than blacks do …… if fans boycott the clippers game it wouldnt do much cause black folks dont go to the game like whites do …so thats the problem

  • Fed Up

    So what you’re saying is, these men, who have worked so hard in their careers to achieve success should throw it all away because of the WORDS of 1 man?? I understand the racial implications of his statements, believe me I do. But, as you stated, this man has been a known racist for over 30 years. I think you’re wrong to put the responsibility of his words/actions on the backs of these brothers just because they are successful in their jobs. We didn’t hear you beating this drum all those years when the Clippers sucked, so don’t take this success away from these hard working brothers. Let them continue WORKING, and YOU take up the fight against racism.

    • kelly

      IF A SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS a racist teacher and principle who has offended every student ihat school , then all the parents band together and take thier kids out of school until the racist culprits are fired and dealt with .. thats the american way … our childrens education is just as important as a game of basketball ., those players will be ok .. they have money .. its just that men are obcessed with these games and dont want anything to interfere with the broadcast of the next game . … many crimes have been committed when someoone gets in the way of these games sports fanatics aint having it .. sort of what you are a fanatic that cant help yourself .. fine a cause and fight for rights , that isthe one thing take previalance over foot ball , baseball and basketball , self respect of our children our nation and our hard workers …. yes these guys play ball but its a bobby not a job

      • Fed Up

        First of all, please spell check, grammar check, etc, when you reply. Your rant was very difficult to read. If you want to fight for the rights of our children, please show that you are qualified to educate them first. Secondly, I am not a fan of basketball in any way shape or form. Since you know nothing about me, you would not know that. What I am is a fan of a BLACK MAN WORKING. Yes, I said working….not playing a hobby, or as you stated “bobby”. If this situation in any way impacted the education of our children, then it would be addressed as such. As a parent of a young black male, I take it upon myself to address these issues with my son and EDUCATE him on the injustices in America, which in turn has prepared him to be the successful student at Butler University that he is. That’s what a PARENT does. Not rant about someone’s OPINION on an article. Please learn to conduct yourself better so that you can be that example for children that you are striving for. And remember, I DON’T know you, but YOU are the one who opened yourself up to this response.

        • butter bean sugar

          FIRST ON MY CLOCK BITCH .. you make no since and need to stop reading blogs if you dont like the article keep it moving . ,this is not about anyones education , or lack of education , and if my typing is fast i and i dont proof read so fuckin what , you aint grading no papers , accept your kids shit. ebonic grades , .. so stop trying to check ,strangers you dum BOCH .. SPELLED WRONG ON PURPOSE …….. i WANT TO EDUCATE SOMEONE ?…….why dont you give your son some condoms in his pocket and educate him on teen pregancy before you be an old granny ,still talking bout educating a nigro with babies . and jail time on his docket . now take that upon yourself to do …. wink … quote: FROM WHAT ,YOU SAID .>[ please learn to conduct yourself better so that you can be that example for children that you children you are striving for/?? what the hell do you mean striveing for . lol … i dont strive to do any thing but stay black and die RICH BITCH. … why dont you pay your sons life insurance policy cause with a mother like you he will probably die young in the streets ,or hang his self to escape you and your ignorant dialogue of how to raise a man .. hope you dont have girls too..
          i have a 21 year old in college and a 17 year old in private school .. so you dont need to tell me shit bout raising kids . mine are good . bitch .. what about yours? you need serious help .. GET BACK ON YOUR PROZAC , AND PAIN KILLERS CAUSE YOU AINT BEEN THE SAME SINCE YOU STOP TAKING THEM ON TIME LMAAAO

          • Fed Up

            You need Jesus.

  • Brenda Williams

    Boycott!!!

  • kelly

    if you go on yahoo and bing and read the new comments today you will be shocked as i was how many white people ,dont take this thing serious , white people are prejudice in this country the majority really is , what makes a untracable racist is they are howdy doody at work and in your face ,, but behind close doors and on bloggs they are opposed to any type of stand against biggot whites , this old wealthy white man is owning a team with mostly black players yet …whites cant see why he should not be saying he hate blacks or they are not welcome … do you mean the players moms and dads and family is not welcome to come there but the player is ? wow ,
    whites tend to pretend we are over acting , and use al sharpton as a camoflauge to cover the fact .. someone speaks out against this , al sharpton is not the blame so keep him out of this mess , he is a mediator if anything he fights for resolutions even if that mean firing this old bastard , he has no place in american history .. . they got rid of jerry sanduski who moslested them boys right .. so this man is just as ifnorant donald sterling LET HIM GO .. HE IS CANCER ON OUR SOCIETY .. AND A GAME THAT DRAWS AMERICANS TOGETHER ….. WE DIDNT ASK HIM TO OPEN HIS MOUTH AND SPEAK INJUSTICE HE DID THOUGH AND NOW ITS ALL GOING DOWN . HE SHOULD HAVE KEPT IT REAL … NO ONE DESERVES SUCH INJUSTICE AT ALL

  • teachermrap

    SLAVES ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PROTEST

  • Renee G

    If you don’t agree with the beliefs of the owner of the company you work for, you gonna quit?