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Mandingo And The Man.



The first time I saw the name Mandingo was on a theater marquee in Philadelphia, 1975.

A slave drama from the old South was before it’s time, before Unchained and 12 Years. I didn’t go in.

Ken Norton played the title role. Years later I checked out the VHS version from the local library.

What was it about? Well, slavery and the attitudes that promoted the institution. The subject was god-awful, so was the drama that seemed to dip toward a new style of historical porn with all the raping and whipping.

A movie that feels like a demented view of humanity was hard to watch. Who’d make something so grotesque?

Relax. Even Donald Sterling didn’t go that far, though based on what we know about race relations Sterling style, it’s not far from his freakish views.

In Mandingo-land the master did common slave trade practices that might make you vomit in your mouth. His sub-human behavior reflected the era portrayed and turned the entire dramatic stage into something you’d expect on the Schindler’s List cutting room floor for being too awful.

Even the star, a heavyweight boxing champ, got the treatment.

He started as a favorite, toeing the line drawn by the master until he took a wrong turn that ended as badly as any grizzly film death.

Bonnie and Clyde doing the machine gun dance in their car? Sonny Corleone doing the same, then getting out and taking a few more rounds? Neither involved a boiling cauldron and pitch fork, so Mandingo wins that cinematic contest.

What are the chances of Donald Sterling being familiar with Mandingo?

He’s got the same ideas in human trafficking, human bondage, and a personal interest in the topic by the sound of his girlfriend’s recording.

Like Mandingo, he’s got people around him who approve of his act. When shouted questions from reporters asked if he was a racist, a screeching voice answered, “No. Of course not.”

The voice belonged to his wife of fifty years, not one of his lady friends. They’d been out to dinner after the phone recording went viral. This is a wife so conditioned to stand by her man that she sued the girlfriend for the gifts Sterling had lavished on her.

The two of them made a nice couple, his sour face beside her lights-on-no-one-home expression. She might say her man’s not a racist, but the evidence is in. And she’s sticking by his side, unlike the female lead in Mandingo who took a ‘good for the goose, good for the gander’ approach.

No one wants to hear more about Sterling’s ideas for a better America, or hear his wife defend him. So what do we want?

Since he’s thrown himself into the boiling water of public opinion, that’s out. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver already stuck a fork in to make sure Sterling is done, so none of that either.

Why not a scared straight moment where Sterling spends time with hard core white supremacists in their ‘hood instead of his posh surroundings. Hang a carrot on a stick for this sickie and promise something if he participates, then pull out.

To anyone misunderstanding Donald Sterling’s issue, here they are:

This fish-faced old man lords over a team comprised of the sort of men he’ll never be and never was.

NBA players grind their guts out to play the game. Strength, conditioning, and competitive natures make American professional b-ball the best in the world. Call them world class. Even bad NBA players are damn good.

What to call Donald Sterling? World Crass? World Trash? Just don’t call him an NBA owner.

Banned for life is a good start. Getting voted out of the NBA owners club feels right. But there’s more.

Moving the team to a new city instead of staying with the ghosts in LA is the fresh start the Clippers need. Changing the playground changes the game.

A new home with new faces will refresh the team. Spread the word, Seattle needs the Clippers, and the Clippers need Seattle.

Milking the movies one more time: “Make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

About David Gillaspie


  1. Alex Paul says:

    Sometimes you hear about something you missed in your youth, like Woodstock and have regrets, so it’s nice to find I missed Mandingo and have no regrets at all!

    I agree with Mark Cuban, it’s illegal to force someone to sell an asset because of comments he thought he was making in private, as awful as those comments were. My guess is the best way to force him to sell is for the fans to boycott the games, as soon as it’s losing money he will gladly sell. That’s the right way to handle this, let consumer sentiment dictate his ownership, not a law, because how would the law read?

    IF someone says something offensive, (what and to whom), you can’t continue to own your business. We do have the First Amendment, sadly it can’t diffentiate between the best poem in the world and the stupid utterings of the Clippers hopefully soon be be ex-owner.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Good point Alex. When the Blazer fans stopped showing up the team changed direction to what’s happening now. I like Mark Cuban’s owner act. He’s pretty enthusiastic.

      It looks like my review of Mandingo hit the spot. It’s horrible and Donald Sterling would see it and say, “What’s the big deal?”

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