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Clippers star Blake Griffin is the latest athlete to join Derek Jeter and Legendary Entertainment’s The Players’ Tribune digital venture.
In his first contribution to the website, the new senior editor shares his thoughts on the NBA team’s former owner Donald Sterling, including some strange experiences he had with Sterling, and the team’s new owner, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
Griffin recalls Sterling leading him around by the hand at his annual White Party in Malibu and having Sterling introduce him to groups of people with the same small-talk prompts.
“A lot of you are probably wondering why I didn’t pull my hand away, or why I didn’t just leave the party,” Griffin writes. “For one, I was a 20-year-old kid from Oklahoma. But even if I had been 25, I don’t know if it would’ve been any different. The guy was my boss. Ask yourself, how would you react if your boss was doing the same thing to you?”
The Clippers forward also claims he was well aware of Sterling’s racist views when he was drafted.
“When I knew the Clippers were drafting me, the first thing I did was type Donald Sterling’s name into Google. The first hit that came up was ‘Donald Sterling is a racist.’ I read an article on how he didn’t want minorities to live in his apartment buildings. My first thought was, ‘Wow this guy is really, really a racist … how is he an owner of an NBA team?’ My second thought was, ‘Wow, these articles are from 2003 and 2008. I guess everybody already knows about this stuff and just doesn’t care.’ “
But Griffin adds that he “didn’t ever really think about bringing up” what the owner had said in the past: “As players, we’re not supposed to really care about anything but basketball. We’re just supposed to perform. … What was I supposed to do? Just picture me at the press conference my rookie year. ‘Uh … hey, guys, before we talk about today’s game, did you happen to see that investigative report on my owner?’ ”
Griffin also recalls a bizarre instance during his rookie season in which Sterling started yelling about Baron Davis shooting a free throw, writing, “The guy was off his rocker.”
“The incident didn’t make SportsCenter. It didn’t even make the local papers. If you’re wondering how a known racist can own an NBA team without anyone batting an eye, first ask yourself how the owner of an NBA team can scream at his team’s best player in front of thousands of people and hundreds of cameras without anyone even caring,” Griffin writes.
Now the team is owned by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. While Ballmer’s excitement at a fan rally seemed like a bit of a joke, Griffin says he likes it.
“Personally, I love that kind of crazy. Ballmer wants to win no matter the cost. Donald Sterling didn’t care if we won — at least if it meant he had to spend money,” he writes.
Griffin says the mood around the Clippers training facility is different with Ballmer in charge.
“It’s little bit ironic to me that the media has tried to turn Ballmer into a meme when they turned a blind eye to Sterling for years,” Griffin writes. “Steve is a good dude. He’s like a cool dad who gives you candy. Donald was like a weird uncle.”
Jeter launched The Players’ Tribune as a way for athletes to connect directly with their fans.??The digital venture, on which Jeter partnered with and is receiving capital and creative support from Legendary Entertainment, is intended to become an online community of athletes where players can share videos, podcasts, photo galleries, polls and more, covering everything from sports commentary to lifestyle and popular culture.
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Jamie Lee Curtis