Kevin Johnson, the Sacramento mayor and former NBA All-Star, spoke Tuesday on behalf of NBA players, current and former, in support of Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision of a lifetime ban on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments on an audio recording released last weekend, USA Today reported.
“Today the players believe the commissioner has done his duty,” Johnson said while surrounded by current and former players outside the doors of Los Angeles City Hall. “On this day, Adam Silver is not only the owners commissioner, he is the player’s commissioner. But this shows we still have a long way to go. It shows that hatred and bigotry is far from over.”
Ticking off the names of African-American athletes like Arthur Ashe and Muhammad Ali, Johnson told reporters that “sports has played a pivotal role in advancing civil rights.”
“Today stands as one of those great moments where sports transcends, where sports provides a place for fundamental change on how our country should think and act,” Johnson said.
NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was there, along with Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash, New York Knicks Tyson Chandler, former Lakers forward A.C. Green, former Lakers and Clippers guard Norm Nixon, and guard Roger Mason, the National Basketball Players Association vice president who is now a free agent.
Johnson took the lead at the news conference, with Abdul-Jabbar, Nash, Mason and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti also sharing their praise for Silver’s decision.
Johnson and others who spoke said a lesson is to be learned from the decision.
“These events remind us that hatred and bigotry are far from over in this country,” Johnson said. “I hope every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and sees that if he can fall, so can you.”
Abdul-Jabbar sent out a statement, saying, “His actions were so on the mark it was unbelievable. I’m thrilled with the outcome…we’re looking forward to some very positive changes.”
Michael Jordan has also commented on Commissioner Silver’s decision, according to NY Daily News.
“I applaud NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s swift and decisive response today,” said retired NBA superstar Michael Jordan, now owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. “He sent a powerful message that there can be zero tolerance for racism and hatred in the NBA. I’m confident that the league, our players and our fans will move on from this stronger and more unified.”
Former great Shaquille O’Neal offered a similar sentiment: “Way to go, Commissioner Silver! The NBA stands for everybody.”
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.
Sterling has repeatedly been accused of being a racist businessman whose company has settled multiple housing discrimination lawsuits that, in turn, allowed him to escape previous NBA punishments.
On April 29, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the NBA has banned Sterling from the league for life. Silver banned Sterling from associating with the Clippers, the NBA itself or even attending a game for “life.” He fined Sterling the maximum allowed $2.5 million.Follow @exnbadotcom
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