Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin has written an essay about Donald Sterling in Derek Jeter’s new quasi-journalism, quasi-PR publication The Players’ Tribune, and while it will not surprise you to learn that he found Donald Sterling to be an offputting weirdball, the details of their interactions are pretty funny/messed-up. Like this anecdote from a beach party Sterling brought Griffin to:
“Everyone, have you met our newest star? This is Blake! He was the number one pick in the entire NBA draft. Number one! Blake, where are you from?”
Then I’d say I was from Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma! And tell these people what you think about LA.”
Then I’d say it was pretty cool.
“And what about the women in LA, Blake?”
It was the same conversation with every group of people. When he would start having a one-on-one conversation with someone, I’d try to slip away, and he’d reach back and paw my hand without even breaking eye contact with the person. Whenever he didn’t have anything left to say, he just turned around and walked us over to the next group.
“… Have you met our newest star?”
Griffin goes on to praise the team’s new owner, Steve Ballmer, which Deadspin observes is both self-serving and predictable. It’s a fair criticism, and Deadspin is right that you won’t learn anything shocking or newsworthy from Griffin’s piece, but it’s still worth reading, in this blogger’s opinion, for indirectly addressing the oft-asked question of how black players and coaches were able to work for someone whose racist views were a matter of public record even before the TMZ tapes came out. The answer seems to be a kind of groupthink psychology phenomenon—everybody knew Sterling was awful and unhinged, but since everybody knew that everybody knew, and he was still around, everybody just figured there was nothing to be done about it. Sounds depressingly plausible, right?