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May 5th, 2014
06:07 PM ET

Analysis: Media 'complicit' in not going after Sterling's racism in the past

(CNN) – Sports Illustrated published an anecdote Wednesday that its editors axed 14 years ago.

"Shortly after the clippers made Danny Manning the top pick of the 1988 NBA draft, team owner Donald Sterling invited the player and his agent, Ron Grinker, to talk contract in Beverly Hills. It was recounted to me how Sterling lounged around his mansion in a bathrobe open to his navel, wearing nothing underneath," reporter Frank Lidz wrote back in 2000.

The bizarre story goes on to talk about Sterling whipping his son with a belt.

"In these cases everybody says, well, (former NBA commissioner) David Stern knew this guy was in his league, and crazy racist Uncle Donald has been around a long time, and how could the owners tolerate this? Well guess what, we as the media have to also be complicit in this as well," says The Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise.

There was evidence, going back more than ten years, of Sterling's racism, says Wise, referring to a 2003 lawsuit which accused Sterling of "numerous discriminatory statements and housing practices," according to court documents.

Among other claims, his accusers said Sterling told building staff that he did not like Hispanic or African-American tenants and that he preferred Korean-American tenants and made "disparaging comments" about African-American and Hispanic tenants.

"This was a guy practicing housing discrimination, which is the biggest modern form of segregation that anybody could practice," said Wise. "And we didn't go after it until it affected the NBA."

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