By Ivan G. Goldman
All eyes are on the Los Angeles Clippers and their creepy owner Donald Sterling. Not so many eyes are on Floyd Mayweather’s welterweight fight against Marcos Maidana Saturday night. At least not as many as he and the promoter would like to see.
So what does Floyd do?
Announces he’s “very, very interested” in buying the Clippers. Presto! The man soaks up some of that free publicity. But how much of that is real?
Perhaps Mayweather could get enough investors together to buy a club that was worth about $750 million but could be worth even more now that the whole country cares about the Clippers and what happens to them. They’re part of our less than stellar racial history, and, more important, also part of the slow but sure healing process.
But then if the league is kicking Sterling out of the ownership circle for his blatant racism – as it should – I’m guessing the NBA might be intensely concerned with just who replaces him. The league would have to sign off on any deal. And Mayweather has baggage.
First there was a disgusting racist tirade against Manny Pacquiao awhile back that was on youtube and that I will not repeat here. It may even have been worse than Sterling’s recorded rant to his girlfriend – or perhaps not quite as bad. It’s all a matter of personal taste – or distaste. But let’s say Floyd somehow gets past that. He atones for his crappy comments and the atonement is accepted by all.
Here’s another question: would the NBA cozy up to a prospective owner with a police blotter that stretches from Las Vegas to Grand Rapids, Michigan? It involves woman-beating mostly, though you can find a security guard and a bouncer who also ran afoul of him.
The last such incident was in 2010 when he struck his ex-girlfriend, Josie Harris, and threatened two of their children during an argument at her home. Prosecutors said Mayweather wanted to throw her and her boyfriend out of the house. Apparently multi-millionaire “Money,” who loves to flaunt his bling, cash, mansion, cars, and harem to fans, figured his three kids could go live under a bridge somewhere.
Eventually he pleaded guilty to a reduced domestic violence charge and no contest to two harassment charges. He did two months in the slammer and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
Ms. Harris subsequently moved with her children from Las Vegas to California, where Floyd’s access to her home is more limited.
All big-time sports leagues are very conscious of player police troubles that get dragged across public view from time to time. We don’t have to go over all the history, but offenses in question have even included homicide. My favorite incident was three years ago when Plaxico Burress of the NFL Giants accidentally shot himself in a nightclub.
Anyway, I question whether an NBA that’s seeking pristine off-court behavior from players would consent to an owner with Floyd’s criminal-courts baggage.
Back to the fight on Saturday. The Nevada odds have slimmed down from 12-1. Last I looked they were -1000 for Mayweather, +650 for Maidana. Bet $1,000 to win $100 on Mayweather, bet $100 to win $650 on Maidana.
Meanwhile, the internal eruptions at the lead promoter, Golden Boy, have to be taking a toll on the Showtime PPV event. Employees jockey for position, trying to figure out where to turn, as principal owner Oscar De La Hoya and CEO Richard Schaefer prepare their legal briefs.
Earlier this week Main Events’ Kathy Duva filed a suit against boxing godfather Al Haymon, Golden Boy, Schaefer, Canadian boxing promoter Yvon Michel, and Showtime for allegedly committing acts that include fraud, breach of contract and tortious interference regarding a fight she thought she had made between her light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev and Haymon fighter Adonis Stevenson on HBO. That suit could eventually peel some layers off the onion encasing Schaefer and Haymon.
Meanwhile, rumors fly, and Haymon, as always, stays hunkered down. The drama and confusion are terrible for the company, terrible for Saturday’s fight card. Too much uncertainty beneath the smiley facade.
All this makes Floyd’s comments on the Clippers look like a smart move – unless he really means them.
Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag, by New York Times best-selling author Ivan G. Goldman, was released in 2013 by Potomac Books, a University of Nebraska Press imprint. It can be purchased here.
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