On Monday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he did not initially comment on the Donald Sterling’s racist comments on Saturday because, though he disagreed with everything Sterling said, it would be a “slippery slope” to kick him out of the league based on his private thoughts.
“There’s no place for it in our league, but it’s a very, very, very slippery slope,” Cuban said. “If it’s about racism and we’re ready to kick people out of the league… OK, then what about homophobia? What about somebody who doesn’t like a particular religion. What about somebody who’s anti-semitic. What about a xenophobe? What about… there’s any list… Someone who is prejudiced against Latinos?”
Cuban reiterated that what “Donald said was wrong” and “it was abhorrent.”
“There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with, and I don’t want to be associated with people who have that position,” he continued. “But at the same time, that’s a decision I make. I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.”
Cuban emphasized that “there’s no excuse for what he said his position” and for “anybody to support racism.” But he said “in this country people are allowed to be morons.”
“They’re allowed to be stupid. They’re allowed to think idiotic thoughts. Within an organization like the NBA, I’m going to try to do what’s in the best interest of the league,” he continued. “And that’s why we have a commissioner and a constitution, and I think Adam will be smart and, you know, deal with Donald to the full extent available to him.
“Again, in terms of saying a blanket, ‘let’s kick him out.’ I don’t want to go that far because it’s not about Donald. It’s not about his position. It’s about who’s next. What is it that we’re going to make a decision on. And how are we going to draw lines.
“There’s rules in place. Adam will take every opportunity to enforce the rules to the fullest extent available to him. We’ll go from there and see what he does.”
Ahead of the NBA’s Tuesday announcement on how they will go forward in dealing with Sterling, Sacramento Mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson, speaking for the National Basketball Players Association, wrote in a Facebook post that Sterling, at minimum, should be suspended indefinitely:
Mr. Sterling’s comments represent the worst of ignorance and intolerance. Despite that, we cannot sit idly by and watch him implode. While some would argue that we should watch with glee as this racist business owner destroys himself, for the sake of the NBA, we must intervene and engage to bring this to resolution swiftly.
Current and former players are in strong agreement that Mr. Sterling and his views have no place in our league. To that end, the NBPA has asked Commissioner Silver to impose the most severe sanctions possible under the NBA bylaws. We may not have the power to force Mr. Sterling to sell his team, but make no mistake, we believe that Mr. Sterling should no longer have the privilege of being an owner of an NBA team. After all, how can we expect any player (the majority of whom are African-American) to want to work for him?
At a minimum, Mr. Sterling should be suspended indefinitely, banned from games, slapped with the maximum fine possible, and forced to extract himself from basketball operations. He should be required to name someone from his executive team or family to take over all duties related to the Clippers.
If the NBA takes this type of strong stand on this issue — and I have every confidence it will — it will prove to be a defining moment not just for the sport but for the entire nation. It will signal that the league is listening to its players and alum and treating them as valuable partners.
Then, we can get back to the business of basketball, and sports will once again have served to bridge the racial divide in our country rather than widen it.