When I was 13, I was a very good baseball player. Once, as we were warming up before a game, the “N” word slipped from my lips. That was 48 years ago.
I knew it was wrong when I used it, and I immediately looked at the face of my African-American baseball friend whom I had played with for the past 4 years. He heard me and I could see from the look on his face I hurt him.
I wasn’t man enough to apologize to his face. Although, he wouldn’t admit it, my dad was a racist and so was the valley community where I grew up. I still remember that day. I was a jackass and I learned from my lesson.
Not that I never said another racist thing, but I was definitely more self-controlled from the knowledge that I hurt a friend. Live and learn.
The owner of the L.A. Clippers got caught with his jaw down, with a long conversation about why his ex-girlfriend shouldn’t associate with blacks, and to especially not be seen at Clipper games or pose with them in social media.
Although he apologized, the cat is out of the bag. He is a racist, and a team owner in a sports league that is probably 80% African American. There has been a barrage of disappointment and displeasure from owners and athletes alike, and the world is just warming up.
In the Bible it says that “pride precedes the fall or leads to destruction.” Within 24 hours after the words of hate slithered out from underneath his hood, the Clipper basketball players did an act of protest at midcourt before the San Francisco Warrior game.
They dropped their jerseys and had shirts inside out while they warmed up. They then lost the game by about 20. They didn’t throw the game. They just didn’t play well. If you lose a game, it is forgotten when you win the next, or win the series.
When you let your tongue loose, and you are the head of a multi-million dollar organization in a media-frenzied culture, you are in deep and there are few ways out. Not only is it a PR nightmare of empire state proportions, it is a huge distraction from the playoffs, where men have put in countless years of preparation.
I write a column in this journal in the religious section for men. It is called “A Men’s Message” and frequently I will use the phrase “man up!” This idiom for the idiot owner of the Clippers means he should sell the team or somehow relieve himself from management responsibilities.
It would be a hard thing to do, because our pride tells us to not let go. It would be hard, but it would make millions happy.
Being a man requires us to do hard things. If someone enters my house at night, I am the one who gets up and protects the family. Historically, it has been men (and often black men), who have fought the wars as soldiers, ran after bad guys as cops, and entered burning buildings as firemen.
Men do hard stuff and if you are a real man, you do it with a willing heart. I hope the Clipper owner does the right thing. He should protect his team. He should protect the franchise.
He should humble himself so the NBA can move forward. By the way, NBA doesn’t mean “No Blacks Allowed!”