“Donald Sterling is a prince among men,” says Leon Isaac Kennedy, who starred in the Penitentiary series of movies in the ’70s and ’80s. “I’ve been his friend for 25 years.” At dinner, the emcee updates the crowd on the Lakers, who are losing to Houston in a crucial playoff game. With Sterling in attendance, guests aren’t sure whether to boo or cheer. But when the Clippers owner rises to speak, he is gracious. “I really have a special feeling for this organization,” he says. He’s a major donor, contributing $10,000 to $15,000 this year alone, according to chapter president Leon Jenkins.
Sterling doesn’t stay to hear all the speakers — his entourage is at the hotel bar watching the game — but while speaking, he holds his two-handled trophy cup aloft. And he smiles that smile, the almost smirk you see in photo after photo of the man associates call The Donald. It’s smooth and self-satisfied and says not just that the guy behind it makes his own rules but that he’s won yet another round. Tell him he can’t move his team, and he’ll move it anyway. Complain that he’s a cheapskate, and he’ll spend just enough to maintain the profit margin he wants. Sue him for sexual harassment or housing discrimination, and he’ll buy your silence with a hefty cash settlement. Call him a racist, and he’ll show you an eminent civil rights organization lauding his accomplishments.
While it seems Saturday’s tape recording released by TMZ merely contained highlights of an extended argument between Donald Sterling and alleged girlfriend V. Stiviano, Deadspin’s premiere of additional audio will make it especially difficult for Sterling or the Clippers to claim he’s a victim of editing tomfoolery. And while it would appear the Worldwide Leader is a mere observer in the rush to playback Sterling’s private conversation, full credit to ESPN The Magazine’s Peter Keating for sounding a rather loud alarm about Sterling’s history / worldview some 5 years ago.