Donald Sterling has owned the Clippers for more than 30 years. During most of those years, his team was so bad that any unflattering attributes pinned to the owner lurked in the shadows.
Sterling most famously, now, celebrated his 80th birthday over the weekend by getting involved in one of the NBA's ugliest controversies thanks to ridiculous, unfathomable comments he appears to have made about Magic Johnson and race in general.
The NBA is investigating Sterling. Players past and present are denouncing him. His own team is protesting in its own way.
This is hitting the league at the worst possible time -- during an otherwise very entertaining start to the playoffs. While it's unfair to say the NBA deserves this because nobody deserves this, we would say this much is fair: the NBA is paying dearly for not addressing its Sterling problem earlier.
This is not the owner's first go-round with controversy. In fact, he has faced multiple lawsuits centered around his alleged racism. Per a 2009 LA Times story:
In 2006, the Justice Department filed a still-pending discrimination suit against Sterling for allegedly using race as a factor in filling some of his many apartment buildings. The suit alleges that Sterling refused to rent to non-Koreans in Koreatown and to African Americans in Beverly Hills.
The suit alleges Sterling once said he did not like to rent to "Hispanics" because, "Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building."
Sterling also allegedly said, "Black tenants smell and attract vermin."
In 2009, longtime Clippers GM Elgin Baylor filed suit against Sterling, alleging, among other things:
Sterling is accused of telling Baylor he wanted to fill his team with "poor black boys from the South and a white head coach."
During negotiations with former star Danny Manning, Sterling is also charged with saying, "I'm offering a lot of money for a poor black kid."
Either incident by itself is a major red flag. Both taken together would seem to be grounds for some sort of league discipline ... maybe even enough to build a ground swell to force Sterling out of the league.
Instead, here we are.