Donald Sterling: How To Lose Building A Winner

Donald Sterling just didn’t know when to stop.

For years, Sterling was content being the owner of the Los Angeles (starting out as San Diego) Clippers. Through the years, the Clippers have become synonymous with ineptitude, and Sterling used that as a kind of buffer against the world. Obsessively self-promoting his real estate prowess, his charitable contributions and himself to better serve his own agenda while being quite the opposite behind the scenes works as long as you are losing, observes the Los Angeles Times.

Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 while still in San Diego. At that time, Sterling had accumulated his wealth via real estate with the help of his wife, Shelly. Sterling continued to self-promote in while being in the public eye as the Clippers owner. In fact, he used his new title as a way to further insulate himself from the rest of the world. In his world, his word ruled, and there was no recourse. Many times, he was sued by tenants claiming discriminatory practices while he continued to collect their rent payments, adding to the Sterling coffer. His attention to self-promotion built a wall around Sterling, making it near impossible to hold him accountable for his actions.

Sterling was seen as affable, a bit of an eccentric, if you will. It was a vicious cycle, but Sterling made it work. He continued to build moats around him, the Clippers continued to lose, and the money continued to roll in. Even in trying times, Sterling always came out on top. When former coach Bill Fitch sued for back pay, Sterling was made to make restitution, but no one saw it as anything other than Sterling doing what he does, observes the Los Angeles Daily News. When Elgin Baylor sued Sterling for discrimination after Sterling fired him, it was again perceived as Sterling being Sterling.

It seemed as though as long as Sterling stayed in the shadows, and the Clippers continued losing, Sterling was covered in teflon.

Then, the Clippers hired quality basketball people. The Clippers started drafting, trading and signing quality players. The Clippers started winning, thrusting Sterling into an unfamiliar spotlight. The more successful the Clippers were, the less comfortable Sterling became. His comfort zone had become penetrable,

And, as everyone knows now, his misspeakings cost Sterling a very valuable piece of his fortune, one he can never get back. When his recorded voice was released to the public, though he continued (and continues) to insist he did nothing wrong, yet adds fuel to the fire with every new statement. His interview with Anderson Cooper, which was meant to be an apology, ended up being an extended rant on Magic Johnson. Sterling’s defense mechanism didn’t work anymore. He was exposed; his shameless self-promotion no longer shielded him.

Now, he sits on the sidelines as his wife Shelly sells his Clippers to Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO, for $2 Billion. He continues to sue and make noise. Much like sound and fury, though, it signifies nothing.

Donald Sterling has entrenched himself in his ivory tower. It was his defense; it will serve as a monument to be his eventual downfall.

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