Sterling's refreshing transparency


For those of us who prefer our billionaire bigots free of sheets and hoods and deceptive words, Donald Sterling's Anderson Cooper interview was a rare treat.

The disgraced NBA owner made no real attempt to conceal his feelings of superiority. In his trial by combat, Sterling eschewed the help of counsel, both legal and public relations, and entered the ring alone. He left on a stretcher, unaware of the fatal self-inflicted wounds.

There is no defending Donald Sterling today. It can't be done. Anderson Cooper and CNN did not trick a crazy old man. They did not bait him or secretly record him. According to Cooper, Sterling did not exhibit signs of dementia or lack of coherence. He was not an enraged, jealous lover.

He is a white supremacist making a final plea to a small council of men he believes sympathize with his plight.

"I wanted to apologize also to my partners," Sterling told Cooper. "I have 29 partners in a league that's a wonderful league. I respect them. And I love every owner. Every owner knows me. I love the commissioner.

"I'm sure that it's -- it's terribly difficult for him to impose severe punishment, because he knows me so well. But here he is trying his best."

And here Sterling was trying his best to let his partners know that he knows them best.

"Of course they support me," Sterling said. "They can't understand why I would say that. I can't understand why I would say that. ... I embarrassed the league. I humiliated them. I don't know how, why I did it. I mean, it's so terrible."

This is not terrible. It's enlightening and refreshing. In this age of political correctness, rarely do we see power expose itself this transparently. I began the day expecting Sterling to somewhat sincerely apologize and try to put an end to this controversy. He reignited it and built a bigger fire.

He apologized to his peers in ownership and the members of his own family hurt by his words, and he defended the young woman who betrayed him. There was no direct apology to black people or black Clippers fans or the black players in the NBA. When Cooper asked Sterling what exactly he was sorry about, the Clippers owner cleverly sidestepped.

"Well, I'm sorry that so many people are hurt," he responded, and then talked about his grandchild who was ridiculed at nursery school.

No. Sterling lashed out at black people, using Magic Johnson as our proxy, a symbol of the black American male in Sterling's mind.

"He acts so holy," Sterling said. "I mean, he made love to every girl in every city in America. And he had AIDS."

I felt foolish for expecting an apology. Sterling's decision to grant Cooper the interview exposed the billionaire's agenda and level of contrition. Had he wanted to make peace with black people, he would've chosen Oprah, Arsenio, Michael Wilbon, Stephen A. Smith or Roland Martin for his interrogation. Sterling opted to speak with the son of an heiress socialite. He appealed to the establishment, old money.

Spike Lee said Sterling reminded him of Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Sterling reminded me of J. Edgar Hoover attempting to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. In a white supremacist's mind, a black man must be perfect to be loved and revered, but a white man's great deeds overshadow his great sins.

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