Speaking with VLAD TV, Matt Barnes recalls Clippers owner Donald Sterling infamous phone call recording, which will be part of FX upcoming docuseries.
For the L.A. Clippers, their 2013-2014 season which produced a 57-25 record and a playoff run, their success was tainted by their then owner Donald Sterling disturbing racial comments. Appearing on VLAD TV, Barnes praised LeBron James for stepping up as a leader and the face of the NBA. “LeBron is so instrumental to this game, not only what he does on the court, but off the court,” Barnes said.
Barnes credits LeBron for making it “okay” for athletics to speak out on issues other than sports and the basketball court. Back in 2014, TMZ broke a major story involving former L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. A phone call recording was obtained by TMZ, has Sterling telling his girlfriend, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling also commented about the Lakers legendary star, Magic Johnson, “…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
LeBron James, at the time playing for the Miami Heat, did not hold back about Sterling’s racial comments when asked prior to his game versus the Bobcats. “It’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable in our league. It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, Hispanic, whatever, all across the races. It’s unacceptable. And as a commissioner of our league, you have to make a stand and you have to be very aggressive with it. I don’t know what it’s gonna be, but you just can’t have that in our league,” James said. “And for an owner to come out and say the things that he said, it’s very disrespectful, and very appalling,” James said. “And one of my best friends and dear friends plays for his team, Chris Paul.”
Another player on that 2013-2014 Clippers team was Matt Barnes. “We’re doing this show with FX on this. They made a series on it. This should be coming out either late this year or early next year,” Barnes revealed. “At the time I said he wasn’t the only one that thinks like this, he’s just the only one dumb enough to get caught. There’s plenty of these older white men who own professional teams that are on the same mentally. Same way being raised that looks at Black people as lesser. Look at minorities as less.”
Sterling was ultimately banned for life from the NBA for his racial comments. Fast Forward to 2022, and another NBA owner is ready to step away, as he has received backlash for his “soft” punishment. Saver, who owns both the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, was initially suspended for one year and fined $10 million for making racist and misogynist remarks in the workplace.
As he did with Sterling, LeBron James voiced his opinion. “Read through the Sarver stories a few times now,” James tweeted. “I gotta be honest…Our league definitely got this wrong. I don’t need to explain why. Y’all read the stories and decide for yourself. I said it before and I’m gonna say it again, there is no place in this league for that kind of behavior. I love this league and I deeply respect our leadership. But this isn’t right. There is no place for misogyny, sexism, and racism in any work place. Don’t matter if you own the team or play for the team. We hold our league up as an example of our values and this aint it,” James said on Twitter.
Feeling the pressure from many within the league, Robert Sarver is in the process of selling both teams, much, much to the delight of James who Twitter, “I’m so proud to be a part of a league committed to progress!”
I’m so proud to be a part of a league committed to progress! https://t.co/c89Ad7AKZO— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 21, 2022