SBD/March 2, 2011/Franchises

Clippers' Donald Sterling Criticized For Black History Month Ad, Giveaway

The Clippers ad appeared in the L.A. Times' Sunday edition
Most of Clippers Owner Donald Sterling's ads “have lauded him for winning unrecognizable humanitarian awards, but a couple of days ago, one would have only qualified him for Dolt of the Year,” according to Bill Plaschke of the L.A. TIMES. The ad appeared in the L.A. Times’ Sunday edition, showing separate head shots of Sterling and F Blake Griffin under the heading, "Clippers Celebrate Black History Month." The ad included the copy, "In honor of Black History Month, the Clippers will admit 1,000 underprivileged children free." Plaschke wonders, “Why are ‘underprivileged children’ directly linked to ‘black history?’" The “other problem is the date” of the Black History Month giveaway: tonight’s game against the Rockets. Plaschke writes, “If you are going to honor that month, get the right month. For the last 35 years, Black History Month has been celebrated in February.” If this were “any other owner of any other team, this would merely raise eyebrows.” But given Sterling's “history on racial issues, it drops jaws.” Sterling once paid $2.73M to “settle housing discrimination allegations.” He also is “being sued by former employee Elgin Baylor” for having a "plantation mentality." USC professor Todd Boyd said, "The ads are so big, they force you to pay attention to them. It's funny, but there seems to be a lot more of them since he paid that discrimination settlement." The Clippers in a statement said, "This event is another successful well-intentioned effort on the owner's part to ensure that we give something meaningful back to our community. It's as simple as that." But Plaschke writes, “Once again, in trying to buffer his image, Sterling has stained it. … As long as Sterling remains the owner, it all seems to come out wrong” (L.A. TIMES, 3/2).

WELL INTENTIONED? ESPN's J.A. Adande said, “Giving poor kids tickets to a game in March? What does that have to do with a month that was designed to celebrate the cultural and scientific achievements of African Americans in February?” Dallas Morning News' Tim Cowlishaw: “I’m going to buy the Clippers trying to make any connection at all. This is a franchise that’s been irrelevant forever, and now that everybody’s talking about them with their highlights and Blake Griffin, they’re saying: ‘Hey, we kind of missed Black History Month. Let’s catch up. Let’s throw it in March if not February’” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 3/1).
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