A tale of two Donalds: Donald Trump and Donald Sterling Gene Demby on what former NBA Clippers team owner Donald Sterling getting banned for life from the league has to do with Donald Trump and racist housing policy.

Code Switch co-host weighs in on basketball, housing, and two Donalds

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 19: (2nd L) Team owner Donald Sterling of the Los Angeles Clippers and V. Stiviano watch the San Antonio Spurs play against the Memphis Grizzlies during Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 19, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas.

Former Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano watch the San Antonio Spurs play against the Memphis Grizzlies during the Western Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs Ronald Martinez/Getty Images hide caption

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

This week, I swung by Pop Culture Happy Hour to talk to the great Aisha Harris about Clipped, the new FX miniseries that dramatizes the Donald Sterling scandal that rocked the sports world a decade ago. If you don’t remember that circus, here’s a recap: Sterling, the notoriously sleazy owner of the Los Angeles Clippers (the other NBA franchise in L.A.), was caught on tape by his maybe-mistress, V. Stiviano, saying untoward things about Black folks

What followed after TMZ leaked the tape was a wild few news cycles full of extremely clumsy damage control, including this all-time bananas sitdown Stiviano had with Barbara Walters that included this incredible exchange

Players across the league made it clear they wouldn’t play if Sterling stayed on as a team owner. Sensing the coming mutiny, the NBA took the unprecedented step of summarily banning Sterling from the league – for life. It was a moment whose repercussions are still being felt around the NBA.

Donald Sterling’s ban from the NBA for being racist, to many folks who had been paying attention to him for a long time, seemed like it should have come earlier. He had built his wealth from real estate, all the while being sued over and over for discriminating against Black and Latino tenants in L.A. Yet none of those legal battles got much coverage and certainly didn’t tick off brand-conscious league officials enough to reprimand him. But why not?

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Well, maybe he got away with it because everyone gets away with it. Stop me if you’ve heard me make this point before: Racism is so braided into our housing market that it functionally defines the housing market. It shapes which apartments and houses prospective buyers and renters are shown, the terms of their mortgages, the value of folks’ homes, and the perception of the schools nearby. Meanwhile, banks settle lawsuits for discriminating against mortgage borrowers of color so often it barely makes much of a ripple in the national news landscape. Sterling was the rare public face of this typically anonymized institutional discrimination, yet he was ultimately undone because of some very stupid things that his maybe-mistress recorded him saying.

It all reminds me of another Donald, whose early appearance in the national spotlight was as a 27-year-old in 1973, after himself being accused of denying housing to Black renters. Neither Donald was chastened by those lawsuits or investigations. Sterling was later forced to sell the Clippers, which earned him $2 billion — not a bad haul for a team he paid about $13 million for in the 1980s. As for the other Donald? Well, you’ve probably Googled, “Can the president pardon himself if he’s convicted of a crime?” in the last week, so that’s how that’s going.

This story was written by Gene Demby and edited by Courtney Stein.