Synchronized desperation turning Sterlings into spectacle

Synchronized desperation turning Sterlings into spectacle
May 29, 2014, 7:30 am
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A hearing is set for Tuesday, after which owners could vote to terminate Donald Sterling's ownership of the Clippers. (USATSI)

By rights, they should have been chased into the woods with sticks long ago.
Ray Ratto

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Donny and Shelly Sterling have beaten me down with their genius. They have taken on the NBA and used the one tactic none of the other owners considered when they took action against the family a month ago.

Staging a family fight for legal reasons.

It may not work as strategy (I, having been brought up by good, kind, sensible people, am not a lawyer), but it is a glorious notion nonetheless. Shelly is trying to sell the team and the practice facility even though the NBA is voting next Tuesday to prevent it, while Don is refusing to sell and is doing what he does -- suing.

[RELATED: Sterling responds to NBA, June 3 hearing still on]

In other words, the kids could not have created a more chaotic counterattack to the league -- selling while not selling, pledging cooperation and asking forgiveness while suing, divorcing yet staying together, hating each other yet joined at the cerebral cortex.

Even after ignoring the fact that they are both monumental reprobates, you have to admire the scope and vision. Not since Vincent (The Chin) Gigante pretended to be insane to stay out of jail during the mob wars of the ‘70s and ‘80s has completely synchronized desperation been so deftly employed.

And at this point, why shouldn’t we salute them? We as a nation do not celebrate creativity as we should. We tend not to like artists of any kind, thinking them either pampered ne’er-do-wells or starving ne’er-do-wells. We want them to have wrenches or cellphones in their hands, not paintbrushes or philosophy books.

But facts are facts; without the artistic community, America is just the Putin Family Picnic -- structure at the cost of form. We need a little unstructured zany now and then.

And the Sterlings bring it with all cannons.

True, they have offended the entire firmament of the league in which they hold a stake. They have condemned non-whites both in general and in specific, and not just recently either. They have offended their sponsors, enraged their employees and revulsed their partners. By rights, they should have been chased into the woods with sticks long ago.

But fortunately for the purposes of this thesis, the NBA’s idea of vetting an owner is, “You got the scratch? Cool. You’re in.” That’s how the Sterlings walked through the front door, and kept on being welcome despite leaving yearly bags of flaming dog’s business on everyone else’s porches.

So we celebrate them here because of the pure malignant chaos they can still bring to a league that has typically left the entertainment portion of the show to natural comedians like Mark Cuban and unnatural musicians like Jimmy Dolan.

As you might guess, we have not broached this notion with people like Doc Rivers, or Chris Paul, or Blake Griffin. They just went through six kinds of hell with the Sterlings, and would prefer now to have anyone else as their bosses, no matter how inherently off-putting those new people might turn out to be.

Well, kids, life’s tough, then you get a hip replacement that insurance won’t cover, and then you go all room temperature. It’s the circle of life, if that’s what you call living.

No, the Sterlings provide a level of performance art that cannot be diminished by audience nausea. This is a new thing, where they divide and recombine as though they were a gas giant planet forming in the solar system of the damned. And this, damn them while cheering them, is their best trick yet.

Legal experts all agree that the NBA will prevail here, and the Sterlings will have to settle for the grim consolation prize of a 10,000 percent growth in their franchise’s value -- minus the 33 percent revenuer’s cut, of course.

But in the meantime, you go, kids. Don’t go out without a fight -- a pie fight. Make yourselves spectacles one more time for our amusement. Act like zoo chimps while the humans throw food at you to see you do your clever tricks. Disgrace the name one last time, arms and legs flailing, with a going-away speech that would make Tourette’s sufferers wince.

A going-away speech, that is, coupled with a we’re-not-going-anywhere speech. Because insane is where you find it, and in this case you can find it in either one the family’s public faces.

Now get out there and contradict each other, you mad, impetuous blood diamonds. Make this the Lucy skit on crank it truly deserves to be.