Doc Rivers was a guest on Mike & Mike (Cris Carter was filling in for Golic) this morning, and was asked if he was comfortable with Shelly Sterling’s ongoing relationship with the Clippers franchise. “Yeah, she’s not involved,” Rivers said. “She gets tickets. She gets to go to games. That’s not being involved. If that [means her relationship with the franchise is official], then every season ticketholder is involved. She’s not involved with any operations with the team. Shelly Sterling is a fan.”
That’s … partially true. While Shelly Sterling won’t be involved in the management of the franchise, the terms of the team’s sale to Steve Ballmer granted her some privileges that aren’t extended to typical season ticketholders. Among the perks she gets beyond her courtside seats are the title of “No. 1 Fan” (Clipper Darrell said he’d be willing to share the distinction) and three championship rings should the team win it all.
“The one thing I will say in defense of Shelly is that, without her, we’re not talking right now about a new owner,” Rivers continued. “Whether you like her or not, she had to go against her husband and sell this team because she thought it was the right thing to do. So, the fact that she loves this team, has been involved with it for a long time, and didn’t want to give up cheering for us — I have no problem with that.”
Pragmatically, they did need Shelly to ensure the ownership transition would go as smoothly as it did, but it’s disingenuous to act like that was altruistic — “the right thing to do” — on her part. She went against her husband after he’d been exposed making racist comments to his mistress, and the team sold for over $2 billion.
This past May, Jason Whitlock and Bomani Jones spoke about the ways in which Rivers has seemed hypocritical and/or uninformed about the Sterlings, and Deadspin went over Shelly’s history of allegedly being complicit in her husband’s housing discrimination in past settled cases:
Rivers is in a tough spot with all of this. He can’t possibly be ignorant of these accusations, but, again, the Clippers needed Shelly’s cooperation to avoid a prolonged stretch of ugly legal limbo. Nevertheless, it feels bizarre to hear his affirmation of Shelly as a Clippers fan.