The Donald Sterling ordeal was something else! After being surreptitiously recorded ranting his feelings about black people to his mistress, V. Stiviano, Sterling’s appallingly primitive views on race set in motion a tidal wave of disgust throughout the national media. The width of his racism was captured in his infamous quotes. Speaking of his black players, “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses.” He continues, “I’m just saying, in your lousy fxxxing Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself walking with black people,” and “Don’t put him [Magic Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
Though Stiviano is racially mixed, post-racial America’s charge on a boldly different perspective on race and race relations hasn’t capitulated Sterling’s D.W. Griffith-aesthetic. Because of this, NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver fined Sterling $2.5 million dollars in addition to banning him from the NBA “for life.” Among more interesting things is that the NBA is taking action to force Sterling to sell his $575 million dollar franchise, that could sell for upwards of $1 billion dollars. There are plenty of sharks roaming the shores of the LA Clippers’ franchise; filthy rich sharks, and some famed rappers are a part of this pod.
If the NBA’s board of governors can force Sterling to sell, a roll call of potential buyers are ready. With a combined net worth of over $60 billion dollars, the most likely to win a bidding war are business tycoons Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen and Larry Ellison. Guggenheim Partners, Magic Johnson, and Mark Walter are another group of bidders that have a good shot at the LA Clippers. The sharks that are least likely to win in a bidding war are rappers. Sean Combs, Dr. Dre, and Rick Ross have all publicly expressed interest but compared to the above mentioned, probably lack the capital needed to purchase a majority stake.
They can afford to be minority owners, however. Nelly is a minority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and Jay-Z recently sold his minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets. And Drake has partnered with his hometown team, the Toronto Raptors, helping them with a variety of initiatives, including launching a clothing line in conjunction with the franchise.
Invariably stated by the late Notorious B.I.G., describing the limited opportunities in urban America, “Either you slinging crack-rock, or you got a wicked jump shot.” Hip-Hop and basketball have always had a mutual respect in that they’re both driven by competition to be the best, and most ball players and rappers come from the same places. Many players in the league are recruits from some of America’s toughest inner city ghettos. Hip-Hop was created in the inner city, is thriving, and over the past twenty years, has become the centerpiece of urban culture in America (and arguably the centerpiece of pop culture.) Allen Iverson’s entrance into the league was the country’s first up close and personal embodiment of hip hop in basketball; cornrows, excessive body art, brashness, and an unapologetic rebel-without-a-cause mentality. Even his signature crossover and his handles were like a stylized diddy-bop.
Swagger, raw talent, overconfidence, braggadocios machismo, and the will to win, are all commonalities that both basketball and Hip-Hop share. The perks of some of these attributes acquires them boatloads of money. Hip-Hop has afforded top-tier rappers the luxury to entertain the idea of buying a billion dollar franchise, or anything else that is astronomically expensive, whether they can actually afford it or not.
In Questlove’s article in Vulture, “How Hip-Hop Failed Black America” he said a couple of interesting things that I’d like to quote. When speaking of hip-hop’s ubiquity he says, “These days, nearly anything fashioned or put forth by black people gets referred to as hip-hop, even when the description is a poor and pointless fit.” Quest refers to Hip-Hop as a “culture packed into one hyphenated adjective”, with names like, “Hip-Hop abs”, “Hip-Hop news”, Hip-Hop this, and Hip-Hop that. Almost every genre of music on the radio has some element of Hip-Hop influence in it. It’s on TV, the Internet, and in movies. It’s everywhere and can be suffocating at times. But now that Hip-Hop is a global commodity, Hip-Hop attached to anything is money, and money, especially in this country, is power.
Ciroc, Beats by Dre, Formula 50, Shade 45, Revolt TV, Hennessey, Reebok, Samsung Galaxy, and Carol’s Daughter, are but a few companies owned by rappers or that endorse rappers. Hip-Hop has infiltrated corporate America at a magnitude unimaginable twenty years ago. Another thing that Quest sites, is that, “Once hip-hop culture is ubiquitous, it is also invisible. Once it’s everywhere, it is nowhere. What once offered resistance to mainstream culture is now an integral part of the sullen dominant.” With Hip-Hop losing it’s “umph” it will remain powerful until it becomes nothing.
© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2014
Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group