Since TMZ posted audio on Friday that allegedly reveals Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling making a series of racially-charged remarks, current and former NBA athletes have spoken out to condemn Sterling.
In an interview with Hardball on Monday night, former NBA player and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said that Sterling’s remarks have “no place” in America or in the NBA. “The NBA has done a great job in trying to affect change,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I played for the Milwaukee Bucks as a rookie, and they were the first NBA team to hire a black GM [general manager], someone in the front office that had power and responsibilities. Throughout my whole career at the NBA, they kept opening up doors. That’s been the history of the NBA, and sports in general has been a great opportunity for people to step forward and make change.”
He added, “I think of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics, I think of Jackie Robinson integrating baseball, and now we have this ugly, horrible thing that Mr. Sterling has said about any number of minority people. There’s just no place for this in the NBA.”
Abdul-Jabbar also released a statement on Monday:
Donald Sterling’s recent comments confirm that he is guilty of the systematic racism that he’s been accused of for the past 14 years. The best possible outcome would be for him to voluntarily give up his franchise so a new owner who reflects the values of America can take over. In the meantime, we all need to continue to support the Clippers, who clearly are enduring a moral crisis. At a time like this, it’s important that they remember that, though the team is owned by Sterling, they are not defined by him anymore than Americans are defined by any one elected official. The players are defined by their actions. And right now their actions should reflect their commitment to the fans and to showing the world that the players live up to the principles of equality.
In addition, the Los Angeles Clippers have lost every listed corporate sponsor, including KIA, State Farm, CarMax, Virgin America, and Red Bull–losses that could do some lasting damage on the franchise. According to Forbes magazine, the Clippers franchise’s current worth is $575 million, it’s revenue is $128 million, and its operating profit is $15 million. It’s the 13th most valuable of the 30 NBA teams: