Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Sterling done horrible things to people, unrelated to racism


NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has recently spoken with Bill Maher on HBO’s “Real Time” on the Donald Sterling scandal, that resulted in a $2.5 million fine and a lifetime ban of the LA Clippers owner.

Reminding that 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. Sterling was recorded making racist and outrageous statements in the conversation. An NBA investigation, which included an interview with Sterling, determined the voice to be authentic.

Following the investigation, NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million after a firestorm of controversy. The move was praised by many former NBA players, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kevin Johnson and Charles Barkley.

Abdul-Jabbar said that despite that Sterling is old, that’s not an excuse to “cut him some slack” for making such comments.

“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse. His 80 years include the 1936 Olympics, the integration of the NBA, the army. Over his life he has been changing, as did the NBA,” Abdul-Jabbar noted.

“For over 10 years we’ve known about his antics, and about what he has done. And he has done some horrible things to people, which has nothing to do with racism, like being totally indifferent to other people’s sufferings,” Abdul-Jabbar said.

Former NBA All-Star recalled that when he first entered the NBA and started playing for the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, the team’s general manager was black.

Regarding the reaction of the NBA towards the issue, Abdul-Jabbar hailed the Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision regarding Sterling, saying that because Silver was able to handle the issue quickly, people responded and respected that.

Speaking of the founding fathers, Abdul-Jabbar admitted that despite U.S. president Abraham Lincoln had some harsh things to say about the black people, “he evolved”.

“In t he middle of the war he realized what needed to be done. You have to give him credit for evolving quickly, and understanding what really was at stake,” Abdul-Jabbar said.

Despite that investigation revealed the comments on the “Sterling tape” turned out to be legitimate, Abdul-Jabbar says there’s still mystery regarding what became public.

“We still don’t know how TMZ got that recording, that’s mystery. So basically you don’t even know how that happened,” he said. “Somebody has to define what privacy is for ordinary American.”

Previously in an essay for Time magazine, Abdul-Jabbar said the wealth of evidence revealing the LA Clippers owner as a racist should have led to official action long before his lifetime ban.

“He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing. It was public record. We did nothing,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote. “Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope.”

As a result of the hypocritical “moral outrage,” Abdul-Jabbar said, “the whole country has gotten a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome from the newest popular sport of Extreme Finger Wagging.”

Abdul-Jabbar even worked up a little sympathy for Sterling, noting how “now the poor guy’s girlfriend is on tape cajoling him into revealing his racism.”

The girlfriend, he wrote, “blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee.”

Abdul-Jabbar added: “Make no mistake: Donald Sterling is the villain of this story. But he’s just a handmaiden to the bigger evil.”

He concluded: “In our quest for social justice, we shouldn’t lose sight that racism is the true enemy. He’s just another jerk with more money than brains.”


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