ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith said those criticizing Mark Cuban’s admission that he would cross the street late at night if he saw a “black kid in a hoodie” or a “white guy with a shaved head and lots of tattoos” needed to “grow up.”
“I took no issue whatsoever with what Mark Cuban said,” Smith said on ESPN on Thursday. “He happens to be correct.”
Cuban was attacked after making those remarks while saying that everyone has prejudices and that he tries to “always catch” his unless there are “safety issues” involved.
“I also try not to be a hypocrite. I know I’m prejudiced. I know I’m bigoted in a lot of different ways,” Cuban said on Wednesday at a conference in Nashville. “I’ve said this before. If I see a black kid in a hoodie at night on the same side of the street, I’m probably going to walk to other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and lots of tattoos, I’m going back to the other side of the street. If I see anybody that looks threatening, and I try not to, but part of me takes into account race and gender and image. I’m prejudiced. Other than for safety issues, I try to always catch my prejudices and be very self-aware.”
Smith emphasized that Cuban mentioned “white folks,” spoke about the “importance of presentation,” and said people were missing the point if they interpreted Cuban’s comments “along racial lines.”
“If you’re going to have a problem with what he said about the black person with the hoodie on then you have to have a problem with the white person he alluded to with tattoos all over his body,” he added. “I don’t think there is any ethnic group in America that should take issue with Cuban’s comments as a personal affront to them or as if he were isolating them.”
Smith commended Cuban for being “honest, forthcoming, and open about” his “fears and prejudices.”
“I applaud his honesty,” he said. “I took absolutely, positively no offense.”
After saying that he believed “every one” of the NBA owners would say the same thing Cuban did, Smith said that people cannot “want people to be honest” and then attack them “when they are honest, especially in measured tones.”
Smith referenced black critics “on Twitter going off” and in e-mails and Facebook.
“They need to stop that nonsense,” he declared. “We all need to grow up and step back and acknowledge he was being real and open.”
Smith said Cuban’s remarks can easily apply to “black folks in America, Hispanics in America, Asian folks in America, as well as white folks” and were not “designated strictly for white individuals.”
“What Mark Cuban articulated can apply to any of us in terms of our beliefs, our prejudices, our fears,” Smith said.
He said that Sterling’s comments were on a totally different level and nothing like Cuban’s.