SBD/Issue 101/Franchises

Baylor Accuses Sterling, Clippers Of Racist Behavior In Lawsuit

Baylor (r) Contends Sterling (l) Had A Pervasive
And Ongoing Racist Attitude
Former Clippers VP/Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor alleges in a civil lawsuit that Clippers Owner Donald Sterling "has embraced a 'vision of a Southern plantation-type structure' for his NBA franchise, accusing him of decades-long racist behavior," according to Lisa Dillman of the L.A. TIMES. The complaint, filed in L.A. Superior Court yesterday, "presented Baylor's version of an eroding relationship between Baylor and Sterling." Baylor in the complaint "contends, among other things, that the Clippers owner had 'a pervasive and ongoing racist attitude as expressed to then-NBA player Danny Manning during contract negotiations.'" The suit alleged that NBA Commissioner David Stern "was present when Sterling allegedly said of Manning, 'I'm offering a lot of money for a poor black kid.'" That tone "was echoed in another alleged incident in which Baylor claimed Sterling told him that 'he (Sterling) wanted the Clippers team to be composed of 'poor black boys from the South' and a white head coach." The Clippers, the NBA and Clippers President Andy Roeser also are named in the filing, though the team said that it "had not been served with the lawsuit." A news conference was scheduled for this morning at Baylor attorney Carl Douglas' office in L.A. Clippers General Counsel Robert Platt said of Baylor in a statement, "It's hard to believe that he would now make these ridiculous claims after the organization stood by him for 22 years and only three playoff appearances" (L.A. TIMES, 2/12).

MORE ALLEGATIONS: In L.A., Ramona Shelburne notes the lawsuit alleges Baylor was "grossly underpaid during his tenure with the Clippers, never earning more than $350,000 per year, when compared with the compensation scheme for general managers employed by every other team in the NBA." Sterling "expressed surprise and disappointment when informed of the lawsuit." Sterling: "I can't imagine because Elgin has always been very, very close to me. He's a fabulous person. I think there's some mistake" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/12).

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