Below is an edited transcript of a recent conversation with Harry Edwards, a professor emeritus of sociology at UC Berkeley, on Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racially charged statements, according to an audio recording obtained by TMZ.
His reaction to Sterling’s comments
He has such a body of work that I’m not surprised that would be his sentiments. I was surprised that he would be so straight forward and open even to someone close to him. Secondly, I was surprised that whoever had those tapes would turn them over and had to have some understanding of the impact of that situation. I’m glad they did because these are the kind of people we have to expose. Those kind of people have to get out of the business of sport because of the impact they can have.
I truly hope Donald Sterling gets exactly in what he wished for this young lady that no one wants to be in the same room with him and no one wants to be associated with him in public. The players should be the consummate professionals. They should play for each other, Doc Rivers and should play for the fans that bought Clippers tickets. They should totally and completely shun Mr. Donald Sterling. The other athletes in the league should shun him as well. Anybody who the Clippers draft should refuse to play for him, any free agent should refuse to sign with him, the players who are there whose contract is up should demand maximum dollars to stay and play for him. Everybody in the arena should get up and walk out and leave him sitting there. They only have to do it for one game. I’m sure the players would understand and applaud the fans for doing it.
On what the NBA should do to Sterling
If the league wants to suspend him, that’s great and wonderful. The league has to take a stand and say this is who we are and this is something we cannot endorse and tolerate it. They should fine him and suspend him. I would hate to see him suspended before I can see the fans get up and walk out on him. Even if they suspend him for the rest of the playoffs and beginning of the season, the first game he shows up, people should get up and walk out on him. This is absolutely horrible.
Why not have the NBA take away Sterling’s ownership?
I’m not that interested in them taking away his ownership unless they are completely prepared to find somebody else better. It takes a while for a potential owner to accumulate the billion of dollars before you can take over. Unless they’re already prepared for that, it would be hard. Maybe in my old age, I have become cruel. But I would like to see him sit there and face the music and be the owner whose players turn their back when he walks into the room and has to pay extra to get anybody to play for him and gets booed every time he walks into the arena. The easy thing to do would be for him to cash out, get his money, walk away and be a racist somewhere else. But I think there are other ways to deal with this. I can see the league fining him and suspending him.
Why players should play instead of boycotting the team until Sterling is removed
The players should band together and should play hard and not worry about this and should absolutely have the mission to win a championship. He absolutely took that road. They are professionals. The fans bought the tickets to see them play and not to hear Donald Sterling say a bunch of nonsense. Doc Rivers has done a heck of a job in getting them ready and to the point where they are ready in the playoffs. They owe it to each other. They should simply ignore this racist individual. That would give away all that they struggled and worked for and putting their dislike for their owner against their commitment to each other. If two or three players decide not to play, they are through against the Warriors, let alone the rest of the playoffs. You can’t play shorthanded like that.
On NBA not doing anything to Sterling earlier (in regards to housing discrimination lawsuit)
The Commissioner is more inclined to take a stand and action when it is directly
pertinent to the game. That’s his principal responsibility to assure the integrity of the game. If somebody is drinking, has a drug problem on the outside, does the Commissioner step up and take the ownership away? Does he seek to get him help? In the housing thing, I can understand the league being reluctant to step into that.