For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Little about the process of excommunicating Donald Sterling from the NBA was pleasant: from the release of tapes that revealed the depths of his discriminatory views, to the blanketing media coverage of the fallout, to the bitter maneuverings as he tried to maintain a grip on the Los Angeles Clippers.But in the end, Chris Paul saw it as a “turning point” for the league’s players, who throughout their history have often found their own views and political stances held in check.“There was once upon a time when guys wouldn’t say how they felt,” he says in one scene of BLACKBALLED, a new documentary about the Sterling saga on the Quibi platform. “They were worried about the backlash of endorsements or what people may say or how they may react to their feelings.“But not anymore.” Clippers’ Paul George: ‘If I make shots, this series could be a little different’ What the Clippers are saying the day after Luka Doncic’s game-winner tied series, 2-2 Game 4 photos: Luka Doncic, Mavs shock Clippers in overtime “On set, when we’re shooting the interviews, it is very intense and very personal,” Jacobs said. “It’s for the removal of the interviewer, to create a one-to-one relationship with the audience. You are right there, very close to these subjects.”And the subjects don’t seem to hold many punches: There’s depictions of terse team meetings and phone calls, as players describe how they very nearly didn’t take the court for Game 4 against Golden State, how Doc Rivers describes balancing feelings of wanting to lead his team and compete while furious with Sterling and other Clippers leadership. It’s the kind of story that seems ripe to be revisited again and again — this version reveals the frank and raw emotions behind closed doors of people who dealt with anger at the very man who expected them to play for him.It’s worth noting that filmmakers weighed reaching out to Sterling before ultimately deciding to proceed without his side of the story — perhaps a wise choice given Sterling’s rambling, nonsensical CNN interview that was meant as an apology and served as doubling down in the aftermath of the tapes. Players and others inside the locker room were the people Jacobs and his team wished to highlight. While ESPN’s podcast took a long, glaring look at Sterling’s spotty record as a discriminatory landlord with a taste for mistresses, BLACKBALLED is a portrait of the resilience and weighty decisions of those who had to deal with the fallout of the tapes.It’s fallout that Jacobs still is a little incredulous that the Clippers have come out of as a functional organization, still in Los Angeles, still with the same name that was once inexorably linked with not only losing, but with its miserly, racially biased owner.“It’s stranger than fiction; it’s the Hollywood script you could never write,” Jacobs said. “When you go through the Clippers organization and read about all sorts of stuff about their mismanagement, it’s amazing they’ve been able to hang on with Steve Ballmer coming in. If they had moved the franchise, it would have made way more sense to me than it ultimately turned out. But in a weird way, it is kind of a Hollywood ending.”The best way to leave the past behind is to build a glorious future — and obviously the Clippers’ campaign to win the franchise’s first championship is halted with the rest of NBA play. The 2014 squad might have been the other best chance for L.A.’s “other” NBA team to finally break through — while it’s not directly stated in the series, it’s heavily implicit that the drama surrounding Sterling’s tapes set those ambitions up in smoke. Of the major stakeholders in the documentary, Rivers is the only one still working for the Clippers — Lob City was dismantled a few years later.A red carpet debut was not in the cards for BLACKBALLED this year, and Jacobs finished up much of the production under quarantine. But in a world without sports, he’s found that a lot of people are eager to still watch new insight into one of the games’ weirdest scandals that changed the power balance in the NBA.“My sports friends who are familiar with the story are just stoked to hear sports content,” he said. “But other people have told me they really like the culture story. So it’s good to see it really resonated to a completely different set of eyes and experiences, that it’s been very positively received in that way.”BLACKBALLED airs on Quibi, a subscription platform on mobile devices. The last of 12 total episodes will be released on Friday.Related Articles Clippers hope they can play to their capabilities, quell Mavericks’ momentum Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error While basketball may be on hiatus, athletes are not waiting in the wings when it comes to social commentary. The death of George Floyd, a friend of former NBA player Stephen Jackson who died after being arrested by Minneapolis police, sparked outrage from many players in the NBA ranks, notably LeBron James.Social activism by athletes precedes the Donald Sterling affair in 2014, but the scandal and subsequent booting of Sterling from the league represented a tide change to many in the NBA — a moment when players saw that they had power in their platform, and that the league and other owners had to acknowledge it. And that’s why BLACKBALLED director Michael Jacobs still finds power in a story that was covered extensively at the time and has still been picked apart since.“It was a time when they spoke up, spoke out, and found communities of fans and an institution that agreed, ‘This guy’s gotta go,’” Jacobs said in a conversation with the Southern California News Group. “It empowered a generation of players to feel like their voices were heard, all the moreso five years later, their influence has gotten greater and they’ve been emboldened.”BLACKBALLED harkens to before pandemics, when the Sterling tapes posed one of the greatest existential crises the league had ever faced. The beats will be familiar to even to casual observers of the circus that surrounded the Clippers back then, but with added commentary from Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Doc Rivers, J.J. Redick, Adam Silver and numerous others offering context behind one of the strangest events in pro sports.The means of telling the story is fresh: While ESPN did a podcast on the Sterling tapes last summer, this is the first comprehensive film documentary on the subject cut into episodes shorter than 10 minutes (in accordance with Quibi’s emphasis on bite-sized episodic content). Interviews were conducted through a technology that has the subject look directly into the camera, creating an arresting intimacy with the people who helped navigate the Clippers and the NBA through the crisis.