briefly, the cautionary tale of ‘the clippers zone’

If you’re a reader of Deadspin–ostensibly, the sports page of Gawker Media–you’ve likely come across a series of oral histories called “The Clippers Zone”, featuring participants in the disaster that was the Donald Sterling-era San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers. I strongly recommend it both for the schadenfreude and the raw comedy of errors, as seen through the eyes of the Clippers’ well-intentioned lower-level participants during their nearly two decades in NBA hell.

As a bonus, it validates an axiom on organizational leadership I’ve offered here before: the very best of leaders can, at best, only get an organization to mediocrity. The worst, well, they look and act a lot like Sterling did during his ownership…and whose leaked racist pillow talk recordings last year ended up being a $2 billion golden parachute in the NBA selling the team against his will to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Then there’s this quote from former Clippers coach Don Casey: “The thing is, with off-court problems they eventually show up on court.”

That should haunt business leaders, political figures, religious heads, celebrities and the rest of high society. And that might be a comforting thought for you or me–that is, if it weren’t just as true for the rest of us.

By all means, read and be equally entertained and mortified.


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