Donald Sterling

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Donald Sterling
Born 1933
Chicago, Illinois
Residence Beverly Hills, California[1]
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Jewish
Education B.A. California State University, Los Angeles
J.D. Southwestern Law School[1]
Occupation Real estate developer
Known for Owner of Los Angeles Clippers
Net worth Increase US$1.9 billion (Sept 2013)[1]
Spouse(s) Rochelle Stein
Children Scott Sterling (deceased)
Chris Sterling
Joanna Sterling
Parents Susan and Mickey Tokowitz

Donald Tokowitz Sterling (born Donald Tokowitz) is an American business magnate and former attorney. He is the owner of the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Clippers. Sterling acquired the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million, and as of 2014, the team is valued at $575 million by Forbes magazine,[2] ranking them eighteenth out of thirty teams. At 33 seasons of ownership (1981 to present), Sterling has been the longest-tenured owner in the NBA since the death of Lakers majority owner Jerry Buss on February 18, 2013.

Early life and education[edit]

Donald Tokowitz (legally added Sterling as his last name as an adult) was born in 1933 in Chicago, Illinois, and he and his family moved to the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, when he was two years old. His parents, Susan and Mickey, were Jewish immigrants.[3] He attended Theodore Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles, where he was on the school's gymnastics team and served as class president; he graduated in 1952. He next attended California State University, Los Angeles (Class of 1956) and Southwestern University School of Law (Class of 1960) in Los Angeles.[4]

Career[edit]

Starting in 1961, he began to make his career as a divorce and personal injury attorney, but he made his biggest ventures in real estate, which he began when he purchased a 26-unit apartment building in Beverly Hills.

Los Angeles Clippers[edit]

Sterling and Los Angeles Lakers majority owner Jerry Buss were indirectly responsible for each owning their respective NBA franchises. The first instance came in 1979, in which Buss used the money he made from selling a portion of his apartment buildings to Sterling (worth $2.7 million), which covered the remaining balance in purchasing the Lakers, the Kings hockey team, and the Los Angeles Forum from Jack Kent Cooke for $67 million. Two years later, Buss suggested to Sterling that he could purchase his own NBA franchise, and Sterling bought the struggling San Diego Clippers for $12.5 million. Unlike Buss' instant success with the Lakers (including winning an NBA championship in his first season as owner, 1979–80), Sterling and his Clippers struggled through many lackluster seasons, and they did not have their first winning season until the 1991-92 season, eleven years into his ownership.

Sterling has been widely criticized for his frugal operation of the Clippers, due in part to a consistent history of losing seasons. With the Clippers' move into Staples Center in the 1999-2000 NBA season, the team began to build a contender, winning 47 games in the 2005-06 season. This was a record for the most victories in a single season since the franchise moved to California. It was also only the second winning season in Sterling's tenure as owner. The overall franchise record is 56 wins, accomplished by the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Clippers. In the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season they made the playoffs with the best winning percentage in their history (.606) and they won their first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, 4–3, before being swept by the San Antonio Spurs, 4–0, in the conference semi-finals.

Sterling rebuffed numerous offers from other cities to relocate the Clippers, and has been steadfast in his refusal to move the team out of Los Angeles, let alone sell the team. While the team played a few games in Anaheim in the Arrowhead Pond (now the Honda Center) for a few years before the Staples Center opened, he has not been willing to move the team there permanently. In recent years, he has shown an increased willingness to spend. In 2003, Sterling signed Elton Brand to a six-year, $82 million deal, the biggest contract in franchise history. He matched the contract the Utah Jazz offered restricted free agent Corey Maggette: a deal worth $45 million over six years. The Clippers have signed higher-priced veteran free agents, such as Cuttino Mobley in 2005, Tim Thomas in 2006, and Los Angeles native Baron Davis in 2008. In another first during the Sterling tenure of Clippers ownership, the team gave a four-year contract extension to head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr., as well as a five-year extension to center Chris Kaman. Both extensions took effect starting in the 2007-08 NBA season. Under Sterling's ownership, only Dunleavy and Bill Fitch (1994–1998) have lasted four seasons or more as Clipper head coach; as of the 2009-10 NBA season, Dunleavy entered his seventh season as Clipper head coach, by far the longest tenure in franchise history, but was relieved of his coaching duties on February 4, 2010.

Sterling spent $50 million to build a state-of-the-art practice facility and team headquarters in Los Angeles' Playa Vista mixed-use development neighborhood. This followed the lead of several other NBA franchises, including the Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Detroit Pistons, in having their own facility dedicated exclusively for team use. The facility was completed and opened in September 2008, in time for the start of the team's training camp. The team previously practiced at a local health club in suburban El Segundo, and before that at Los Angeles Southwest College.

Controversies[edit]

Accusations of racism and discrimination[edit]

In November 2005, ESPN reported that Donald Sterling agreed to pay a fine of $2.73 million to settle claims brought by the Justice Department and Davin Day of Newport Beach that he engaged in disciminatory rental practices against Hispanics, blacks, and families with children. [4]. In addition, Sterling was also ordered to pay attorneys' fees and costs in that action of $4,923,554.75. [Order Granting Motion for Prevailing Party's Attorneys' Fees and Costs, dated November 2, 2005, C.D. Cal. Case No. 2:03-cv-00859-DSF-E Dkt No. 454]. In granting the attorney's fees and costs Judge Dale S. Fischer noted "Sterling's' scorched earth' litigation tactics, some of which are described by the Plaintiffs' counsel and some of which were observed by the Court. The Court has no difficulty accepting Plaintiffs' counsel's representations that the time required to be spent on this case was increased by defendant's counsel's often unacceptable, and sometimes outrageous conduct." [Id. at p. 5]

In February 2009, Sterling was sued by former longtime Clippers executive Elgin Baylor for employment discrimination on the basis of age and race.[5] The lawsuit alleges Sterling told Baylor that he wanted to fill his team with "poor black boys from the South and a white head coach".[6] The suit alleges that during negotiations for Danny Manning, Sterling said "I'm offering a lot of money for a poor black kid."[6][7] The suit noted those comments while alleging "the Caucasian head coach was given a four-year, $22-million contract", but Baylor's salary had "been frozen at a comparatively paltry $350,000 since 2003".[5]

On August 8, 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination in using race as a factor in filling some of his apartment buildings. The government's ongoing case alleges Sterling refused to rent to non-Koreans in the Koreatown neighborhood and to African Americans in Beverly Hills.[6] The suit alleges Sterling once said he did not like to rent to Hispanics because they "smoke, drink and just hang around the building," and that "Black tenants smell and attract vermin."[6]

Sterling Towers[edit]

Sterling purchased Lesser Towers, developed by Louis Lesser in the 1960s, according to the Los Angeles Times.[8] Sterling changed the name to Sterling Towers, and began to run regular ads in the Los Angeles Times highlighting that Sterling Towers was developed by Donald Sterling, not Louis Lesser.[9]

Skid Row homeless assistance pledge[edit]

Despite a June 26, 2006 Los Angeles Times article,[10] detailing the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation's pledge to spend $50 million on a site on the eastern end of Downtown Los Angeles to provide services for Los Angeles' homeless population, nothing has been built. According to an LA Weekly article[11] from February 19, 2008, critics were skeptical that the homeless center would ever be built, and surmised that Sterling bought the property purely for its real-estate value. A follow up article from the LA Weekly[12] states that the foundation has yet to even start attempting to deliver on its promises but continues to run full-page ads trumpeting its pledge in the LA Times.

Heckling Clippers players[edit]

In December 2010, it was revealed that Sterling had been heckling his own players from his courtside seats, specifically focusing on point guard Baron Davis.[13] His verbal barbs at the time included, "Why are you in the game?", "Why did you take that shot?", and "You're out of shape!".[14]

Personal life[edit]

He married the former Rochelle "Shelly" Stein, in 1957. They have three children, Chris, Joanna, and Scott,[15] and several grandchildren.

On January 1, 2013, Donald Sterling's 32-year-old son Scott Sterling[16] was found dead of an apparent drug overdose [17] in his Malibu apartment, which his father owned. Scott, at 19, was arrested in a 1999 shooting at his father's Beverly Hills home involving his childhood friend, Philip Scheid, who was shot in the back of his legs,[18] Ultimately, charges were never filed.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Forbes: The World's Billionaires: "Donald Sterling" September 2013
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Franz Lidz (April 17, 2000), "Up and Down in Beverly Hills", Sports Illustrated
  4. ^ California State Bar Membership Records
  5. ^ a b Lisa Dillman, Elgin Baylor sues Clippers, claiming racism, Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2009, Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c d Bill Plaschke, There are no winners in Elgin Baylor's lawsuit against Clippers, Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2009, Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  7. ^ Lisa Dillman, Mention of David Stern is an error in Elgin Baylor's lawsuit, Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2009, Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  8. ^ LA Times, September 18, 1966
  9. ^ Los Angeles Times, Friday, November 13, 2009, page B6, lower right quarter page
  10. ^ Real Estate Mogul's Skid Row Project Has Big Buzz but Little Detail
  11. ^ [2] Donald T. Sterling's Skid Row Mirage "The billionaire Clippers owner claims he's creating a major homeless center. He's not, but image is what counts."
  12. ^ [3] Donald T. Sterling's Fake Homeless Center "After hiatus, ads began again"
  13. ^ "Clippers owner Donald Sterling heckling his own players". Sporting News. 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  14. ^ "Shout it out: Sterling heckles Davis". yahoo.com. 2010-12-13. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  15. ^ Los Angeles Times: "Son of Clippers owner is found dead at home" By Andrew Blankstein and Matt Stevens January 03, 2013
  16. ^ http://slimcelebrity.com/sports/scott-sterling-clippers-owner-donald-sterlings-son/
  17. ^ http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/8802723/son-los-angeles-clippers-owner-donald-sterling-found-dead-32
  18. ^ http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/01/scott-sterling-never-charged-in-1999-shooting-of-childhood-friend.html

External links[edit]