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Sterling Center of PR Train Wreck

Tiger Woods, Paula Deen, Anthony Weiner. These three high profile individuals landed themselves in heated controversy – massive storms from a public relations and brand valuation standpoint. All three publicly apologized, admitting they were wrong while trying to take the edge off the lambasting in the court of public opinion. Most recently, Los Angeles Clipper’s owner, Donald Sterling, found himself in the center of one of the most volatile issues to survive from a leadership standpoint – a controversy with racial overtones and, depending who you speak with, bigotry.

Donald Sterling’s initial remarks toward minorities not only cost him a $2.5 million fine, which he now refuses to pay, but a lifetime ban from the National Basketball Association. His remarks outraged tens of millions of people across the world, including Clippers’ leadership, the greater NBA community, and people in all walks of life.

Sterling recently made an appearance on CNN in a sit-down interview with Anderson Cooper. He made an effort to admit his mistake by claiming he was sorry, but then went on a delusional tirade, bringing more negative attention to himself and his distorted views. During this very poorly executed apology, Sterling claimed “African-American’s don’t want to help anybody.” He then took another shot at Magic Johnson (who the initial remarks were directed), claiming that he hasn’t done anything for the black community. Sterling has now escalated an already monumental controversy.

Donald Sterling has ruined his reputation. After his sit-down with CNN, he completely set fire to any hope of retaining the little, if any respect he had left. This is major crisis for Donald Sterling and his entire family. His ex-wife, and part owner of the team, may now be forced to sell her team investment shares as well. Numerous players around the league have voiced their disappointment and anger over the situation, including the face of the league, LeBron James, who said publicly that he doesn’t think anyone in the Sterling family should own the team.

It’s a shame these remarks came at what is supposed to be the most exciting time of the year for basketball, the NBA playoffs. A terrific start to the playoffs, one of the best in recent memory, has been over-shadowed by the ignorance of one individual. At this point, the NBA has formally charged Donald Sterling with engaging in conduct that “damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams” and is moving forward with the termination process which requires a 75% vote by team owners. For now, Sterling continues a downward spiral that can’t seem to go much deeper…but, give it time as there may be a deeper bottom than we all think.

There is not doubt that crisis costs four things, and generally in this order: time, money, customers and careers. For questions or comments, please contact the Fallston Group at info@fallstongroup.com. The Fallston Group – building, strengthening and defending reputations each day.

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