Ex-Clipper recalls playing for Donald Sterling, approves lifetime ban


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Matt Fish, who grew up in Washington, Iowa, and went on to play for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, said he stands behind the league’s decision to ban the Clippers’ owner for life, according to USA Today.

Fish played for the team in 1994-95. He now works with the National Basketball Retired Players Association and Rebound Magazine.

Fish, who played for five NBA teams in a three-season span, said he was not close to the owner and did not know of Sterling’s apparent racist beliefs.

“I made the joke that he fired me – and I’m white,” Fish said, chuckling. “He’s an 80-year-old man living in the past, in my opinion. There’s no room for racism in the NBA. He has to go. He’s banished, and should be.”

Sterling’s controversial comments regarding black people were made public recently. Sponsors announced plans to withdraw their support. Former players and members of the media spoke out against him.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million after a firestorm of controversy following Sterling’s racist comments.

Fish, who works with retired NBA players daily, said his group prepared a statement backing up Silver’s decision. Fish is the president of the Phoenix chapter of the retired players’ organization.

He said Silver, who took over as commissioner in February, made a strong decision.

“It’s hard to define his legacy,” Fish said. “It could be the biggest decision he ever makes.”

Fish also wrote a much more detailed opinion on the “Donald Sterling scandal” on his blog, where he addressed Sterling directly.

“There is no room in this world for your hatred. I feel sorry for you and even sorrier if you learn nothing from life changing mistakes,” Fish wrote.

“I played for Sterling and the Clippers back in the 1994-1995 and rarely even saw the man. To me, distancing himself is how he got away with 33 years of owning an NBA team living his bigoted and racist, unenlightened and narrow-minded life,” former NBA center said.

“In my opinion, an old man simply expressing himself the only way he knew…extremely skewed and certainly uninformed, therefore unfulfilled. Maybe after this wake up call, the old dog can be enlightened about life and team human race,” he said.

Fish noted that he was often “the white guy on many teams”, when he played pro basketball.

“With having an understanding of acceptance, it was never even an issue. I was usually accepted with open arms and honestly it was some of the most memorable years of my life, lifelong friends forever,” he said.

A 1992 second-round selection by the Golden State Warriors, Fish made his NBA debut in 1994 with the Los Angeles Clippers. His rookie season with the Clippers was perhaps his finest, as Fish averaged nearly five points in 14 minutes per game.

The 6’11 center played for LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Washington Bullets, NY Knicks and Miami Heat during his NBA career. Fish played a total of 50 games in NBA (9 started), averaging 3.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg in 10.2 mpg.

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