It turns out, regarding race-related views among NBA owners, Donald Sterling may have company.
Less than a month after Sterling rocked the sports world with racist remarks, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has openly acknowledged his own prejudices.
In a videotaped interview with Inc. Magazine on Wednesday, Cuban casually tosses out stereotypes as if he were talking about the weather. In doing so, Cuban wants credit for just being honest. But his honesty is appalling, and even somewhat Sterling, and one hopes the NBA office was listening.
“In this day and age, this country has really come a long way [toward] putting any type of bigotry behind us, regardless of who it’s toward,” Cuban told the magazine. “We’ve come a long way and with that progress comes a price. We’re a lot more vigilant and we’re a lot less tolerant of different views, and it’s not necessarily easy for everybody to adapt or evolve.”
Cuban then discussed his own prejudices in startling terms.
“I mean, we’re all prejudiced in one way or another,” he said. “If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face – white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere – I’m walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes we all live up to and are fearful of.”
Cuban then tries to justify his remarks in a way that actually defends the actions of Sterling.
“So in my business, I try not to be hypocritical,” he said. “I know that I’m not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house and it’s not appropriate for me to throw stones.”
Judging from his comments, that glass house needs to be shattered.
By acknowledging a fear of a “black kid in a hoodie,’’ Cuban is admitting he is scared of many of his own players and fans, as the hoodie is a common piece of wardrobe for young people of all races. He's also buying into the sort of fears that led to the 2012 Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, an incident that sparked national outrage. In fact, players from the Miami Heat even wore hoodies one day in protest of the fatal shooting of the black teenager.
Just because Cuban says he is trying "not to be hypocritical" does not mean that he can be excused for his ignorance. Simply because he praises this country’s fight against bigotry doesn’t give him a pass to sound like a bigot.
Mark Cuban is not Donald Sterling. He doesn’t have Sterling’s racist past. He is considered one of the league’s smartest and most passionate owners.
But after making those comments, Cuban appears to be lot closer to Sterling than anyone ever imagined, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver needs to deal with the dangers of that proximity.
Was Silver simply banning Sterling for life, or was he truly trying to weed the racism out of the league’s front offices for life? Was the past month only about Sterling, or also truly about tolerance? We’ll soon find out.