Elgin Baylor’s statement

Here is the full text of the statement Elgin Baylor made to the media today, one day after he filed a lawsuit against the Clippers and the NBA:

“I’m Elgin Baylor. I’m here with my wife, Elaine. I dedicated the last 22 years of my life as a NBA executive, working with the Los Angeles Clippers organization, in the position of executive vice president and general manager. It was a job that I loved.

“Against tremendous odds, I put my heart and soul into that job. Working for Donald Sterling was never easy. I was often forced to work under challenging conditions. The authority granted to me was too limited and restricted, for the position I held. It was like working with one hand tied behind my back, but given the shortage of blacks in the executive roles within the NBA, I felt obligated to hang in there and endure whatever came my way.

“I worked with the Clipper organization, under contract, for only for my first six years, until 1993. After that, it was if I had passed the smell test. For the remainder of my time, I was told I did not need a formal written agreement. Donald Sterling always assured me, whenever I asked about my contract situation and my salary, that I was a lifer, that I would remain a part of the Clipper family until I decided to retire. Sometime before the 2006 season, Clipper president Andy Roeser started harassing me about my age. `Elgin, how old are you?’ he would ask repeatedly. `When are you planning to retire?’

“Two thousand and six was a magical year. The team that I pushed Sterling to assemble made it to the second round of the playoffs, exceeding everyone’s expectation. I was honored, by the Sporting News, to be named the NBA executive of the year. The team’s coach was acknowledged and rewarded with a new, long-term contract worth over $20 million. When I asked Donald Sterling if he was going to take care of me, he said nothing. He offered me nothing. He did nothing. No salary increase, no bonus, nothing. Not only was my salary structure left unchanged, my duties, responsibilities and the little authority that had been a part of my position were further diminished by Sterling and Roeser. Player-personnel meetings were planned and conducted without my knowledge and without inviting me to attend. I was left out of contract negotiations. The job that I loved was slowly being taken away from me and there was never an explanation.

“In 2006, the head coach was secretively given many of my general-manager duties. In 2008, I discovered this while researching an unrelated matter. I stumbled upon the coach’s contract and I saw, for the first time, that most of my duties had been given to him. This past August, I was handed an agreement and told to take it or leave it. Given that I had invested so much into the Clippers and the NBA, I was traumatized by this situation, and today I remain mentally and emotionally devastated.

“In closing, I want to make one thing clear: I did not retire. I had so much more to give. The way I was treated by the NBA and the Clippers was unfair and, in many ways, discriminatory. It was wrong. We are forced to take this action because our efforts to resolve this dispute quietly were essentially ignored. So I look forward to having my day in court. I thank you, and may God bless you.”

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