Los Angeles Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Boston Celtics Robert Parish and Kevin McHale, late 1980s (Steve Lipofsky Basketballphoto.com).
Mr. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the legendary center for the Los Angeles Lakers, has pricked the balloon of our complacency, of our devilish and self-congratulatory hypocrisy, in a recent opinion piece for Time magazine. In reference to the public reaction to comments made by Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers, he writes:
“If we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played.”
In his opinion piece, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar enumerates previous instances—part of the public record—that reveal objectionable racial attitudes on the part of Sterling. These the NBA had ignored. But Sterling was caught in a taped conversation asking his girlfriend to not broadcast Instagram photos of herself with Mr. Magic Johnson and other black athletes:
“You can do anything. But don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
THAT—and nothing else about Sterling’s past record—was too much for the NBA, for the sports media, and for the American public. Insisting that Sterling’s remarks were “contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multiethnic league,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver imposed a multi-million dollar fine, a lifetime ban, and began proceedings to force Sterling to sell the LA Clippers. (Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2014)
Anyone who has lived under the oppression of a totalitarian regime cannot but be repulsed by the national reaction to this private revelation. (more…)