CINCINNATI -- Shocking insensitivity is not a new state of mind for Donald Sterling. It was only a matter of time, I was told years ago, that Sterling would get the comeuppance NBA Commissioner Adam Silver imposed Tuesday.
It was the late Ron Grinker, an attorney and one of the first —and still among the most highly regarded —professional sports representatives in the country, who first told me of the NBA’s loosest cannon.
The NBA banned Sterling for life and also fined him $2.5 million after he was recorded making racist statements at African-Americans. Silver said he would recommend to the NBA Board of Governors that it force a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers and vowed he would do "everything in [his] power to ensure that happens."
Grinker loved basketball. The Woodward High School graduate did whatever it took to be as close as possible to the action. That even led him to suiting up as the Bearcat mascot at the University of Cincinnati. Not gifted with Division One talent and plagued by knee problems, his playing was pretty much confined to Jewish Community Center games.
Grinker discovered a far more important niche finding nooks and crannies for role players in professional basketball.
Whether here in the NBA and associated development leagues or overseas, he had an uncanny knack for determining a team’s needs and filling it with one of his guys. Much of that was based on the personal relationships and trust he’d established with the league’s owners. Except for one: Donald Sterling.
“Denny, he is the worst owner not just in the NBA but in all of professional sports,” Grinker said to me and anyone else who cared to listen.
Grinker was eternally perplexed by the fact the guy could survive considering he didn’t put any money into his team. And that was a generous portrayal. It was more an aggregation of guys who suited Sterling’s pay structure. Rock bottom. And the results, until recently spoke for themselves.
The Clippers were the laughing stock of the league yet they continued to make money, thanks to TV contracts and related revenue streams, available even to mismanaged franchises.
And for all his professional shortcomings, Donald Sterling is an even more despicable person. A view reinforced during a phone chat with Grinker's widow,Marcia, and daughter, Melissa, Tuesday.
They both spoke of the time Grinker was in Los Angeles to see his friend and client Danny Manning play. Grinker happened upon Sterling and Grinker’s long-time friend and Clippers’ General Manager, Elgin Baylor. As Grinker extended a hand in greeting to the owner, Sterling, rather than accept the courtesy blurted: “I hope you get a terrible disease and die.”
Both Grinker and Baylor were stunned. Grinker turned and walked away, quietly lamenting the fact his friend Elgin had to work for such a dreadful human being.
And now the rest of the world knows what Ron Grinker knew years ago: That Donald Sterling is a not a good person.
It is no coincidence that ‘Grink’, who annually predicted the entire first round of the NBA draft, foresaw long ago what happened to Sterling. Not necessarily the lifetime suspension or $2.5 million fine but the simple fact that:
“.…Sterling will eventually get his.”
Right again, Ron. Right again!
And that's my 2 cents.
Dennis Janson's "My 2 cents" column is published every Monday and Wednesday on WCPO.com. His video commentary airs every Friday at 6 p.m.