Abdul-Jabbar: I know Sterling, know his voice, and I’m not surprised


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In the matter of days, a lot of people have spoken publicly regarding the alleged tape that has the LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racial comments regarding the NBA.

Recently, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke to CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield about Donald Sterling’s alleged racist remarks.

“That kind of reminded what happened to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, when he was taped, while he wasn’t aware of that,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “His comments were a lot more candid than they could’ve been, had he known that the media would be listening.”

“That’s what happened to Mr. Sterling. He has a bad reputation, as far as I am concerned – the cases that he lost against discriminating blacks and Hispanics – that was kind of a milestone, and here we hear his comments,” he said.

Abdul-Jabbar went on to add that he used to work for Sterling – as a coach for LA Clippers back in 2000, when he coached the team for 3 months.

“I know him, I know his voice, and I am not surprised by this. So that’s the most unfortunate part,” he said.

Yet, NBA legend noted that during his time with the Clippers, Sterling never made any similar comments towards him. Abdul-Jabbar even recalled that Sterling drove him to his daughter’s wedding.

“But given what I’ve heard what he said in this recording, and if it turns out that it is the actual recording which hasn’t been edited – and it seems to me that it hasn’t – we can’t have this,” Abdul-Jabbar said.

“This is a very offensive and repugnant attitude for someone to have, and to be an employer of so many people of color. It’s kind of blows your mind,” he noted.

The NBA said it would launch an investigation into the issue, and Abdul-Jabbar noted that the league should indeed react to what happened.

“I don’t know the guidelines here. He owns the team. He was talking about his personal attitudes. With regard to their businesses and their attitudes, what they do as business people – are sometimes two different things,” he said.

“I think that’s a very difficult thing from someone in my position to talk about because who knows what’s going to happen,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “Some of the players get fined for things that they shouldn’t say, you’ve had players that have said things that were anti-gay, or racial slurs, or just things that shouldn’t be said – they get fined by the league.”

Jabbar went on to add that something has to be done.

“You can’t have a situation like this. It is crazy,” he noted.

Abdul-Jabbar said that the players of the Clippers team “can’t help but to be conflicted and distracted by this.”

On April 25, 2014, TMZ Sports released what it said is an April 9, 2014 audio recording of a conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend or former girlfriend. According to TMZ, Sterling allegedly said in the recording: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.”

The voice, allegedly of Sterling, also reiterated feelings about his girlfriend bringing African-Americans to games. “Well then, if you don’t feel — don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come,” Sterling said.

Clippers president Andy Roesen issued a statement the following day, indicating that his organization was unsure if it was a legitimate and unaltered recording, that the sentiments attributed to Sterling did not reflect Sterling’s views.

In February 2009, Sterling was sued by former longtime Clippers executive and NBA legend Elgin Baylor for employment discrimination on the basis of age and race. The lawsuit alleges Sterling told Baylor that he wanted to fill his team with “poor black boys from the South and a white head coach”.

The suit alleges that during negotiations for Danny Manning, Sterling said “I’m offering a lot of money for a poor black kid.” The suit noted those comments while alleging “the Caucasian head coach was given a four-year, $22-million contract”, but Baylor’s salary had “been frozen at a comparatively paltry $350,000 since 2003”.


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