Blackballed – Donald Sterling and the 2014 Clippers

For this episode, based on the Quibi docuseries, Blackballed, we run it back to 2014 when Donald Sterling, then the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was caught on tape engaging in offensive, racially charged speech. Once the tapes got out, there was outrage across the NBA and more broadly in the nation that ultimately led the newly appointed commissioner, Adam Silver, to impose a lifetime ban on Sterling that resulted in his sale of the team.

Tarlin and Mike share their quick takes on Quibi, which had just launched at the time, before digging into the relevance of the themes in the series. Since we recorded in late May, we connect this to the uproar triggered by the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota. We look for lessons in leadership from the examples of Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, Adam Silver, and even Matt Barnes as we dive into a complex and relevant conversation about sports and its role in elevating consciousness about racial issues. We recorded this prior to the NBA’s season in the Bubble in Orlando, but much remains relevant as we continue to struggle with issues of race, justice, and equity in sports and in our broader society.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf – A Lesson in Protest

This week we run it back to the story of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf to glean lessons about the protests we’re seeing in 2020. Mahmoud began his life as Chris Jackson, a poor kid from Louisiana who battled Tourette’s Syndrome to become a tremendous college basketball player at LSU in the early 1990s. We chronicle the challenges he faced finding his way as he eventually found solace and spiritual direction through Islam. That in turn led him to change his name and begin with a silent protest of the National Anthem that eventually went public. As he remained true to his convictions, he was blackballed by the NBA and was quickly out of the league, in some ways presaging the story of Colin Kaepernik in 2016.

What lessons can we learn from Mahmoud’s story? How is he similar and different from Kaepernik? We dive into all of this as we look for lessons to be learned based on the transformative story of the life of Abdul-Rauf. And we also harken back to the early 1990s along the way.

Thanks as always for listening.