Brownie Points: Sterling takes cheapness to new level - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Brownie Points: Sterling takes cheapness to new level

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Jerry Brown is a contributing columnist who appears every Sunday in the Tribune. Contact him at

Posted: Sunday, March 20, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 10:19 pm, Sun Mar 20, 2011.

Sure, we've had our fun with Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling - the NBA's version of the Burgermeister Meisterburger.

Tight of pocket but never short on stupidity, Sterling recently instructed his marketing department to honor Black History Month (February) at a Clippers game - in March.

But this week, we were assured that Sterling's celebrated cheapness truly knows no bounds.

Seven years ago, Clippers assistant coach (and later head coach) Kim Hughes was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It was an aggressive form of the disease and Hughes understandably didn't want to wait to have the surgery - or miss part of the season - so he opted to have it done by an out-of-network doctor that wasn't covered by the team's insurance policy.

(One can only guess what company Sterling selected for that gig).

The surgery came to more than $70,000 and Sterling refused to foot the bill, saying if he paid for Hughes' cancer treatment he'd have to pay for every Clipper employee who found himself (a) with cancer and (b) needing a doctor not covered by insurance.

Makes sense. After all, the man had over 100 employees and he's only worth $1.5 billion. You do the math.

But Hughes had his surgery. And now we know his own players - Corey Maggette, Elton Brand, Chris Kaman and Marko Jaric... already saddled with the indignity of being Clippers - stepped up and paid Hughes' bills.

So while Sterling slips on his nightcap and enjoys a small saucepan of gruel before crawling into bed tonight, I'm sure he tucked himself in secure in the thought that since Clippers players paid for Hughes' surgery and he pays the players ... well, you know.

Meanwhile, in Other Billionaire News...

Does anyone really think for a single second that either the NFL or the players will allow a single second of regular-season football to be lost while they figure out how to slice up $9 billion of revenue?

There is a better chance Kurt Warner will samba into Flagstaff next summer and lead the Cardinals back to the playoffs.

All the ink that will be wasted between now and July is all about posturing and posing - something football players do better than anyone. As long as we can convince Adrian Peterson that the NFL isn't "modern-day slavery" (unless there were slaves that were paid $40.7 million for six years and then eligible for free agency that I'm not aware of), and Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson that the league's superstars know a little bit about player safety, there is a middle ground to be found before September.

Hey A.P. ... have you met Mr. Sterling?


Quick Hitters

• I got to know both Jalen Rose and Grant Hill pretty well when I covered the Suns for both their tenures in Phoenix.

I'm surprised and disappointed that Rose decided to use derogatory comments toward Hill and Duke players in the HBO documentary he produced chronicling himself and the rest of the Michigan Fab Five.

The loss of respect wasn't worth the shock value.

I'm not surprised in the least in Hill's thoughtful, on-target and classy rebuttal in the New York Times, in which he put Rose and that mentality of that time in its place.

• For all those who had been urging the Suns to begin the post-Steve Nash era as soon as possible by trading him for cap space, projects or draft picks before the trade deadline, you had a nice view of your preferred future when Nash was either sidelined or severely hampered by injury in the last 10 days.

Like what you see?

In the last seven years, the Suns have won three out of every four games Nash has played - and won three out of every 10 he's missed. Barring a miracle finish, Phoenix will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years. But pawning Nash off so the Suns can "turn the page" - unless the deal is too good to pass up and Robert Sarver has no access to the bounty - makes no sense.

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