There has a segment of observers who blame Doc Rivers for supporting Shelly Sterling, Donald Sterling’s wife.
After all, this is a woman who loudly defended her husband on camera last weekend, allegedly posed as a health inspector to count the ethnicities of tenants in her husband’s building, allegedly called a tenant a “black m—f” and allegedly called Latinos “filthy.”
Shelly’s alleged racism is not as well-documented as Donald’s, but is that because she’s not as high profile as him or because she’s not racist? The question bears more investigating, though those allegations came from settled lawsuits, so gathering information won’t be easy.
But it’s not fair to ask Rivers, who admitted he should have known more about Donald’s past allegations before taking the Clippers job, to do that research right now. How much have Frank Vogel, Dwane Casey, Jason Kidd, Mike Budenholzer, Gregg Popovich, Scott Brooks, Kevin McHale, Terry Stotts, Mark Jackson, Dave Joerger and Rick Carlisle learned about world affairs outside basketball these last few days? Coaching in the playoffs takes a lot of time, and as important as these issues are, Rivers has only so much time in a day.
As Rivers has repeatedly said, he believes the Clippers continuing to win will keep Sterling’s racism and what we can learn from it in the forefront of public discussion. Like everyone left in the wake of this unusual situation, Rivers just doing the best he can.
So, good on Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News for educating Rivers.
Arash Markazi of ESPN:
Doc on Shelly Sterling's presence being a distraction: "Yeah, it could be."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 30, 2014
Rivers needn’t condemn Shelly right now. As I said before, he probably doesn’t have the time to research her extensively right now, and I doubt his previous support came out of nowhere. If they had a good relationship prior to Donald’s audio being revealed, it surely can’t be easy to suddenly reverse course.
But Rivers also needn’t go out of his way to stand by Shelly and invite her to games. He could easily distance himself from her until he’s had time to gain a fuller picture of her. I hope that’s what he’ll do.