Last summer, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling tried to kill a sign-and-trade deal for free agent sharpshooter JJ Redick. As the story goes, Sterling didn’t want to fork over roughly $6.5 million a year for a white player who was coming off the bench, but Clippers president and head coach Doc Rivers talked him into it. Per the LA Times and USA Today:
Redick, who is white, said it was not that “difficult to hate that sort of ignorance.”
“In the days after, it was the first time in my life where I was conscious of the fact that the people I was talking to were black or Asian or Mexican,” Redick said. “I don’t look at people like that. So to hear those sort of things come out of someone’s mouth, it [upsets] you.”
Redick had been subjected to all sorts of name calling when he played at Duke.
But Redick said that was different compared to what his teammates heard from Sterling in an audio recording released last week.
“It hits you when you see your teammates being emotional, crying,” Redick said. “They’re thinking about their parents. Or they’re thinking about their brother or their sister or their kids. That’s when it really hits home.”
Even more twisted, Redick recalled the story that Sterling didn’t want to sign him last summer.
“I’ve been told both ways,” Redick said. “One, that he didn’t want to spend because I was white and the other he didn’t want to pay me because he thought I was a bench player. I was told both things.”
After much discussion between Rivers and Sterling last July, Redick signed a four-year, $27-million contract with the Clippers in a sign-and-trade deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
“I came here for Doc,” Redick said. “And I came here for Chris [Paul], Blake [Griffin]. I looked at this as an incredible opportunity for me on the basketball court.”
“I think every day that passes, it gets easier. When (Commissioner) Adam (Silver) made his decision, we were at shoot-around for Game 5, and that was the first time when anybody was kind of like, ‘Phew.’ And then all of a sudden we’re in the locker room five minutes later and somebody tells a joke. I hadn’t heard that for three days.”
So how long until Sterling is no longer at the forefront of their minds?
“It probably won’t go away as long as we continue to advance,” he said. “It’ll still be part of the story, but it gets easier.”