Social media users, including Hollywood’s finest celebrities, are not holding back their opinions on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments leaked on the internet late last week. The scandal stems from an audio recording of Sterling making racist comments, saying he doesn’t want black people at his games or his girlfriend taking pictures with them.
Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and even President Barack Obama have weighed in on the controversy, upset at Sterling’s discriminatory words.
Rihanna went on a posting spree Saturday evening, posting memes mocking Sterling’s offensive remarks. Rapper Snoop Dogg posted a photo of Sterling’s girlfriend Vivian Stiviano, who allegedly leaked the recording, with rapper Don “Magic” Juan.
“The real magic. Had her 1st. Pimp pimp hooray!” read Snoop’s caption.
President Obama deemed Sterling’s remarks “incredibly offensive racist statements” at a news conference Sunday.
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” he said.
Stephen A. Smith, popular ESPN sports commentator, said Monday night that if the NBA did not take action immediately regarding the controversy, he would continue to express his outrage publicly.
Almost 24 hours later, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday afternoon that Sterling was banned from the NBA for life and issued a $2.5 million fine, the maximum fine possible for the league.
Following Silver’s announcement, social media exploded. The effect social media has on a public scandal like this elevates the importance exponentially. Millions of tweeters expressed their discontent with the situation.
Had this controversy taken place five years ago, the issue might’ve been swept under the rug. However, the fast-paced nature of social media makes the this situation explosive.
Over 40,000 tweets trended with the hashtag #bannedforlife along with nearly 20,000 tweets featuring the commissioners name just a few hours after the announcement.
Perhaps Sterling’s most offensive comment was about NBA legend Ervin “Magic” Johnson. Sterling bashes Stiviano’s Instagram feed upset about her association with black athletes including Johnson, who she has a photo with.
Johnson expressed his satisfaction with the commissioner’s decision on Twitter.
“Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life,” read Johnson’s tweet.
The impact of Johnson’s presence on social media has garnered supporters and advocates of the league that doesn’t tolerate racial discrimination, making it one of the NBA’s most talked about controversies.