The strange and sordid saga of former Los Angeles Clippers’ general manager Elgin Baylor versus team owner Donald T. Sterling took another left turn on Tuesday. Baylor changed his testimony when asked under cross-examination to detail instances in which he was asked about his age.
Platt showed video testimony from Baylor in a pretrial deposition in 2009 in which he said he had been asked that question once back in the days when the team played at the Sports Arena.
Platt: “Are you changing your testimony?”
Baylor: “I’m not changing my testimony. I was telling the truth at that time.”
Baylor added that he remembered now that he had been asked the question more than once. Platt asked him if he ever complained about the alleged harassment to anyone at the Clippers, the NBA or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
It looks like another blow to what was a shaky case to begin with. Baylor’s complaint originally began as both a racial and age discrimination suit, but he dropped the race portion earlier this month. Regardless, it’s hard to make a case for discrimination when you consider Baylor’s record with the organization.
In 22 seasons as general manager, the Clippers finished .500 or better just three times and made the playoffs just four times. In 15 of Baylor’s 22 seasons, the team had at least one selection in the top ten of the draft – including having the first or second pick on a combined four occasions. It doesn’t matter if you’re 76 or 36, that’s an awful track record and Baylor should be thankful that he had an owner uncaring enough to let him tinker around even half that long.
Yet this doesn’t absolve Sterling from the least bit of blame. Claiming to not know Baylor even played in the NBA is but a small sin compared to some of his others, ranging from sitting courtside and heckling one of his star players to refusing to help one of his coaches pay for cancer treatments. Even worse is Sterling’s reputation as a misogynist and a racist, as evidenced by a number of lawsuits brought forth by tenants in a number of his run-down Los Angeles apartment buildings.
Unfortunately, Baylor will have a hard time proving that any of Sterling’s prejudicial tendencies are the reason he’s out of a job. Yes, he’s old. Yes, he’s black. But two decades of incompetence don’t give him a leg to stand on.