LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — For all of 24 games in 2010, Drew Gooden played for the Los Angeles Clippers. But that brief stretch was enough for the current Washington Wizards reservist to get a taste of the three decades worth of controversy swirling around owner Donald Sterling.
Overshadowing Washington’s strong play in the franchise’s remarkable return to the postseason have been the racist comments allegedly made by Sterling to his ex-girlfriend. The words captured on the recording and published by TMZ have reopened wounds largely not felt in professional sports since the mid-1990’s when Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was twice shunned by Major League Baseball for exercising what some would call a prehistoric insensitivity.
And despite the current controversy and player protest on Sunday, Gooden says the best thing the Clippers can do is to rise above it all.
“I think the Clippers need to say ‘Hey, it happened but let’s rise above the occasion and go out here and wins some games,'” Gooden told 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier.
Still, he acknowledges there’s a catch-22 as any success achieved on the court would ultimately translate into success for for the heel owner.
During his time in Los Angeles, Gooden says he witnessed first-hand as Sterling heckled Baron Davis, a member of his own team. He made his only mission at the time to stay in his lane, get in and get out without landing on the owner’s radar and becoming subject to the same bizarre taunting.
Gooden also recalls one particular evening where the Clippers were outscored 10-0 in the game’s opening minutes and Sterling walked out of the arena. He thought the owner turning his back on the team like that was a little strange.
But oddities and Sterling are nothing knew to those in the NBA know.
“It seems like he’s been having these past history of issues with racial discrimination or these kind of sex scandals dealing with women. All this stuff that he’s already been associated with in the past,” said Gooden. “The saying is ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire.’ So, I mean, this is something that’s been going on. But I think now is the time for him to pay.”
The NBA is scheduled to discuss an investigation into Sterling’s alleged comments during a Tuesday press conference.