Former Clippers executive Elgin Baylor, who once sued Donald Sterling alleging discriminatory treatment, believes NBA commissioner Adam Silver did the right thing by imposing a lifetime ban on the disgraced Clippers owner, who was caught on tape making a series of racist remarks.
"Justice has been served," Baylor said in an interview with CNN. "Look at it that way. They know what Donald is like. The things I said before about Donald are absolutely true."
Baylor, 79, was an 11-time All-Star during his Hall of Fame career with the Lakers. After retiring in 1972, Baylor briefly pursued a career in coaching. In 1986, he was hired by the Clippers as GM and he remained in that position until 2008. The following year, Baylor sued Sterling for wrongful termination and initially accused Sterling of age and racial discrimination.
"Of course he is [a racist]," Baylor told CNN. "There's no doubt in my mind now. At the time I thought that, and there's no doubt now. I think he is."
TMZ released audio of a conversation in which Sterling can be heard scolding V. Stiviano, his girlfriend, for bringing African-Americans to Clippers games and for posting photos of herself and African-Americans, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson, to her Instagram account. Silver said the NBA was able to authenticate that it was Sterling’s voice on the tape and that Sterling acknowledged that it was his voice during a league investigation.
"It just brought back memories of some of the things that were said by Donald," Baylor said, when asked about the tapes. "It didn't surprise me at all, no. That's the Donald Sterling I know. He says a lot of things, different things, he has different mood swings. You never know what he's going to say or do."
Baylor's lawsuit of Sterling was ultimately unsuccessful, as a jury ruled in favor of the Clippers owner in 2011. Although Baylor did drop the race-related accusations as the legal proceedings played out, his lawsuit painted a damning picture of the Clippers organization, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In the original lawsuit, Baylor said that Sterling had a “vision of a Southern plantation-type structure” for the Clippers and accused the owner of a “pervasive and ongoing racist attitude” during long-ago contract negotiations with Danny Manning. The lawsuit also quoted Sterling as telling Manning's agent, “I’m offering you a lot of money for a poor black kid.”
Baylor alleged Sterling said he wanted the Clippers to be “composed of ‘poor black boys from the South’ and a white head coach.”
Reports of inappropriate behavior by Sterling towards his players have also come to light. For example, Baylor alleged in his lawsuit that Sterling would visit the locker room while players were showering, according to ESPN.com.
Players Sam Cassell, Elton Brand and Corey Maggette complained to me that Donald Sterling would bring women into the locker room after games, while the players were showering, and make comments such as, 'Look at those beautiful black bodies.' I brought this to Sterling’s attention, but he continued to bring women into the locker room."
Baylor repeated those claims to CNN this week.
"[Sterling] did it on many occasions. 'Oh, look at those beautiful black bodies.' That's what he used to say," Baylor recalled. "While the guys were in the shower and everything else. On several occasions, I told him not to. Players were mad and upset about it. I told him on several occasions, he kept doing it. Eventually it stopped." In addition to the lifetime ban, Silver imposed a $2.5 million fine on Sterling, the maximum allowed. The NBA is also taking steps to force Sterling to sell the team. Clippers president Andy Roeser, a longtime Sterling employee, was placed on an indefinite absence this week, and the NBA plans to install a new CEO to run the organization during what could be a lengthy ownership transfer process.