More than just the comments, what’s really astonishing here is what pulls these two men apart: while Cliven Bundy is just a rancher, Donald Sterling is a massively powerful, wealthy, and influential man. What’s hard about Sterling’s case, and what makes it completely different from Bundy’s, is that it reveals that even at the top of one of America’s proudest, most diverse institutions, an abject racist can still pull the strings.
Cliven Bundy owes the federal government slightly over $1 million in fees. Donald Sterling owns a basketball franchise that’s valued at well-over $500 million. Bundy may’ve had his moment in the media spotlight, but Donald Sterling has been firmly ensconced in wealth and power for decades.
Of course, the actual alleged comments from Sterling aren’t really a surprise. Sterling has a notorious history here, whether it’s settling for nearly $3 million in a case over racial discrimination at apartment buildings he owns, or heckling his players from his courtside seat. Or the detailed racial discrimination lawsuit brought against him by Hall-of-Famer and former Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor. Or Sterling celebrating Black History Month (which is February) with a March Clippers game featuring limited free tickets for “underprivileged children”—because, you know, black = underprivileged.