NBA Owners Are Almost Always White, Even Though 80 Percent Of The League's Players Aren't

Despite 81 percent of NBA players being non-white, NBA majority owners are almost always white, according to data from FiveThirtyEight. About 76 percent of NBA players are black, a staggering majority which calls into sharp focus the relative dearth of black team ownership. At present, only one majority owner is black, and you may have heard of him — NBA legend and Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was issued a well-deserved lifetime ban from the NBA after his racist diatribe was caught on tape. While the black community makes up the vast majority of the league's players, just 43 percent of coaches are black, as compared to 53 percent white. That's not as shocking a figure, taken in a vacuum. But when you look at management positions — that is to say, the people behind the scenes of a basketball franchise — the issue becomes really apparent. Just 18 percent of the league's office staff are black, as compared to 64 percent white.

This isn't to be overlooked in the massive, unified response which NBA players put forward to force the league to dump Donald Sterling. Of all the racist remarks Sterling made to his girlfriend on that now-infamous tape, perhaps the most telling was as follows:

I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?

With those comments, a distinctly slavery-era outlook was revealed in at least one of the league's owners. Sterling talked about the legal, contractual exchange of money for elite-level services as though he were dishing out handouts on the power of his own generosity.

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson is reportedly interested in buying the team, which would be appropriate, considering he was the primary target of Sterling's racial animus in the first place. It's also been reported that Oprah Winfrey is considering buying the Clippers, though whether she'd be a majority owner is unclear, possibly teaming with entertainment mogul David Geffen, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.