Stay Away, Shelly Sterling

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Last week, this page published the editorial “Sell, Donald, Sell,” imploring the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers to part ways with the basketball team. We also asked those who know and do business with Sterling to call him up and urge him to do the right thing in the wake of the racist comments he made to V. Stiviano that were released by TMZ.

Tradition dictates that after such missteps, the offending speaker goes on TV and does the mea culpa routine. It turns out, you never know what the Sterlings are going to say. Yes, that’s Sterlings. Plural.

Donald dug himself into an even deeper hole last week with his “apology” to Anderson Cooper on CNN. As he sought to explain his offensive statements, he managed to shock the public even more with some bitter comments regarding Magic Johnson.

That has only been half of the story, however. In a move that no one expected when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life, Sterling’s wife Shelly has stated that she intends to keep her 50% of the Clippers. Shelly made her case on an interview with Barbara Walters, and her attorney has been talking tough.

We’re not sure why people with the last name Sterling are so tone deaf to the desires of local residents, and so ignorant of the likely consequences (possible players’ strike, fleeing sponsors and fans, diminishment of the value of the team). However, just as we asked Donald to sell, now it’s time to ask Shelly to stay away. Again, Downtowners who know her should reach out.

Shelly has said in public that she disagrees with her husband’s racist remarks. She argues that she should not be judged by the words he used.

It remains to be seen if she has legal recourse to keep the team. However, in the court of public opinion, her partnering with Donald for more than five decades is all the evidence one needs. She stood by his side, and was apparently his partner in life and business as he endured past allegations that he discriminated against minority renters in some of the apartment buildings he owns. There have also been allegations in the past (we stress, just allegations) that she too has made some reprehensible statements.

The point is, the public doesn’t believe in her, and even more crucially, it appears that the Clippers players and coaches don’t either. It seems clear that, if any Sterling owns the team, things will go from bad to worse in a hurry.

The NBA recognizes this and already is taking steps to ensure that Shelly Sterling also does not have a stake in the future of the franchise. We wish the league luck in their work.

Now, if anyone reading this knows Mrs. Sterling, it’s time to pick up the phone. The message they need to deliver is clear: Stay away, Shelly. It’s in the best interest of the city and the team that she does exactly that.

© Los Angeles Downtown News 2014