(CBS Local)– It’s been five years since former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA.
Commissioner Adam Silver barred Sterling from ever attending another NBA game after TMZ released a tape of Sterling making racist remarks. A lot has changed in the NBA and in the country since then and ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne took a look back at the whole saga in a new 30 for 30 podcast series called “The Sterling Affairs.”
“Donald Sterling had been a deplorable person and owner for a long time,” said Shelburne in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “There’s some pretty icky stories in the podcast of the way he treated his players and the things he subjected them to and nothing ever happened. I think the north star for me was why was it this tape, why was it this mistress, why was it this scandal that finally brought him down after 30 years.”
The five part podcast series features interviews with Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, former Clippers star Blake Griffin, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Shelburne says that the NBA is totally different five years after Sterling lost the team.
“I actually think we would say something now,” said Shelburne. “I think players between social media, the media climate that we’re in, and the player empowerment era… I really think this behavior would’ve been called out very publicly by numerous players many times over. There was this separation between players and owners where the owners still felt like they were the most important people. In this documentary, we looked at the power and leverage Donald Sterling had over the entire city in the way he gentrifies the city. He is a character for the ages.”
One of the most interesting people to examine in this saga is Shelly Sterling. She had her husband deemed mentally unfit in a public court and also stood by his side after the release of the TMZ tapes.
“I think she was a major force behind their businesses and their real estate empire,” said Shelburne. “She’s implicated in the Department of Justice housing discrimination lawsuits against them. I don’t think you can exonerate her from any of their behavior in real estate or in business that is really deplorable. What I will say is when things go bad for Donald, she does not only the right thing by selling the team, but she has to get her husband declared mentally incompetent and it has to be public. He called her a pig in open court. Then we find her five years later and it’s like nothing ever happened.”