Ad Dollars Clip Owner’s Wings

By Tom Score

For over three decades he has owned the worst team in professional sports. In 2006 he announced he would spend $50 million to provide services to LA’s homeless population. By 2009 ground had yet to be broken. That didn’t stop him from continuing to run full page ads in the LA Times touting his pledge. In 2006 he was sued for housing discrimination for using race as a factor in renting some of his apartment buildings. African Americans and Hispanics need not apply. If you had children – look somewhere else. In 2009 he paid a $2.73 million fine to settle claims brought by the Justice Department for engaging in discriminatory rental practices.

Also in 2009 he was sued by former longtime Clippers executive Elgin Baylor for employment discrimination on the basis of age and race. Baylor alleged that he was told to fill his team with “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach.”

Then came the recording. On the tape he is heard speaking with his mistress. Bothered by a photo she had posted with Magic Johnson, he’s heard saying, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” Then the NAACP cancelled its plans to honor him with his second – that’s right, SECOND – Lifetime Achievement Award.

His team – now one of the better teams in the NBA the last two years – protested the remarks by wearing their shirts inside-out “to obscure any team logo.”

Then the real backlash happened. Advertisers backed away from their sponsorship deals with the team. Millions of dollars were withdrawn. Big name advertisers such as CarMax, Virgin America, Kia Motors and State Farm Insurance – all gone.

Suddenly the NBA gained a moral compass. The new commissioner acted in a way his predecessor never did. He banned the racist owner for life. He has asked the other 29 owners to use the power given them in the bylaws to force the sale of the team. The owner is not welcome any more. You see, it’s one thing to deny housing to minorities and to grossly underpay those who are not white. It’s another thing to stand by while millions of dollars from advertisers walk out the door.

Good riddance, Donald Tokowitz. Yes – that’s the slimeball’s real name.