A recently released extended excerpt of Sterling's conversation with his "girlfriend" V. Stiviano may say more about the Clippers owners mindset than anything else.
Following an exchange where he asks Stiviano whether she thinks he's a racist she poses the question “Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?" He responds with the following,
“I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives that to them? Does someone else give that to them?”You would expect him to say "they are well paid" or some other words characterizing an employer/employee relationship. But Sterling instead uses the paternal language often used by people who defended the institution of slavery. The very language heard by Cliven Bundy.
It would seem that Donald Sterling looks upon his players as his wards or his children. They are treated well, they are well fed, clothed and housed. So how dare anyone suggest he is a racist.
During the exchange Sterling also takes full credit for the team's existence, as if the players are a mere afterthought. This is the same attitude of all the self-proclaimed job creators who cannot accept the obvious truth that without people doing the jobs there would be no business.
But it is the way in which he denies his racism that is most telling. He expresses a strain of paternalism that, while certainly common in the bygone era of the pre-Civil War South, has no place in the United States today.