By USA TODAY SPORTS STAFF By Thomas O’Toole 4-27-2014
A May 15 banquet for the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People just became a lot more intriguing. The group is planning to honor Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with a lifetime achievement award. This is the 100th anniversary of the L.A. chapter.
[UPDATE]: The NAACP has announced on its official Twitter account that Sterling will not receive the award.
But in light of racist comments attributed to Sterling on a recording that surfaced on the TMZ website, the banquet plans might be changing.
L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti is also scheduled to be honored with a Person of the Year Award, as is the Rev. Al Sharpton. But, Yusef Robb, the mayor’s spokesman, told the Los Angeles Times on Saturday, “In light of recent events, we will be discussing the event with the Los Angeles NAACP.”
On the chapter’s website, the list of honorees still included Sterling late Saturday night. An email and phone call from USA TODAY Sports to the office was not immediately returned.
The NBA announced Saturday it was investigating to determine if racist comments heard on the audio were indeed from Sterling. The audio obtained by TMZ has a man telling a female associate “why are you taking pictures with minorities, why?” and telling her not to bring to Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson to Clippers games. The person said it bothers him that she posted photos of herself with black people on her Instagram account. After a recent Clippers game, the woman took a picture with Johnson.
In a statement, Clippers president Andy Roeser, said of the recording that the club does “not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered. … Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life.”
According to the website Deadspin, this would not be the first time Sterling would be honored by the NAACP at an inopportune time. He received another Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 around the time of former GM Elgin Baylor’s discrimination lawsuit. Deadspin posted this excerpt from an L.A. Times story:
Clippers owner Donald Sterling, accused of racism and embracing a “vision of a Southern plantation-type structure” in a lawsuit filed in February by Elgin Baylor, will be given a lifetime achievement award next week by the NAACP. . . .
Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles branch of the civil rights organization, says of the much-maligned Sterling, “He has a unique history of giving to the children of L.A.,” revealing that the owner donates anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 tickets a game to youth groups for nearly every Clippers home game.
Noting that the NAACP had made plans to honor Sterling before Baylor filed suit, Jenkins says, “We can’t speak to the allegations, but what we do know is that for the most part [Sterling] has been very, very kind to the minority youth community.”
On Sunday morning, the NAACP tweeted the following update:
Contributing: Jeff Zillgitt