‘There Will No Longer Be Institutional Racism In The NBA’- Mayor Kevin Johnson

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    Roland Martin discusses the lifetime ban of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling with ESPN’s Jason Whitlock and former NBA All-Star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

    “There have been more signs than his pillow talk tape that Donald Sterling is a bigot.  This has been going on for years,” Whitlock said.

    Read the entire interview below:

    ROLAND MARTIN:  Tom, Sybil and Jay I hope all is well with you guys today.  Everybody was riveted waiting yesterday for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to make his big announcement as related to whatever was going to happen to Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for the last 33 years after that tape was dropped 72 hours earlier showing him making racist comments.  Silver came out and said point blank that Sterling told him that it was indeed his voice on that particular tape and dropped a lifetime ban, not just from being on the property for the Clippers, doing anything involved in the team, but also he can’t attend any NBA game for the rest of his life.  A lot of folks have been commenting on this.  Lots of discussion, controversy.  So we turn to Jason Whitlock of ESPN.  He has a very interesting and unique take on this.  Jason, I tweeted your column out last night where you said; all right, mob mentality was at play, folks were emotional, but we still are avoiding what is the real issue in the wake of this Donald Sterling issue.

    JASON WHITLOCK:  I don’t think we’ve ever had someone particularly of Donald Sterling’s wealth put on the table exactly what created him and what standards he was adhering to.  And we’re celebrating the basketball death of Donald Sterling, and we’re all focused on Donald Sterling.  And he put so much more on the table for us about the culture that we’re adhering to.

    ROLAND MARTIN:  And when you say put it on the table, on that particular table, especially if you listen to the dead spin extended tape he said that. He said; look, the bottom line is I’m not big enough to change this and he also said I don’t want to change.

    JASON WHITLOCK:  Yeah.  And he talks about; listen, we live in a world and we live in a culture where basically this is dictated of me.  And I think of white people.  So he talked about the white, the global white supremist culture that is at work here that created him and created people just like him and I wanted that to be front and center in the discussion because that is what is at the heart of all of this.  And I wanted the players to understand that this is his peer group.  When he’s talking about the culture and the standards he’s adhering to, his peer group, he’s the longest tenured NBA owner.  They have protected him.  There have been more signs than his pillow talk tape that Donald Sterling is a bigot.  This has been going on for years.  He’s been screwed for housing discrimination.  Elgin Baylor brought his light his mentality and the way he treated him and the entire organization.  And we have his peer group within the NBA.  They’ve been stirred.  They have protected him.  And so this mentality, there are other Donald Sterling’s far more clever than him that are still at play in the NBA and throughout the rest of society and I want to talk about that.

    TOM JOYNER:  All right, so Jason, you’re saying, like Stevie Wonder, he hasn’t done nothing.  Kevin Johnson is on the phone, Roland.

    SYBIL WILKES:  Mr. Mayor.

    TOM JOYNER:  Sacramento Mayor, Kevin Johnson, how are you doing?

    KEVIN JOHNSON:  Good morning, everyone.

    ROLAND MARTIN:  Yesterday, of course, first of all you were tagged by the players to be their spokesman in this issue.  You had just heard Jason’s take on it.  Of course he’s also written it.  Do you believe that in the wake of this decision, to his point, the larger issue deals with the notion of white supremacy and also as he talked about this culture, and him frankly being extremely honest about it and we now it based upon these tapes.

    KEVIN JOHNSON:  You know, I can’t disagree with that.  I didn’t hear the whole interview.  But what I will say is that, I mean, this was a defining moment.  And throughout the history, you know, sports has always played a pivotal role in advancing civil rights.  And Tommy Smith, and John Carlos in the ’68 Olympics, great leaders like Mohammad Ali and Jackie Robinson.  And I believe yesterday stood as one of those great moments where sports transcended, where sports provided a place to fundamentally change how we, as a country, think and act.  And is bigotry real?  Yes.  And there was a decision made yesterday where there will no longer be institutional racism in the NBA.  Zero tolerance.  And I thought it was very powerful what Commissioner Silver did.

    SYBIL WILKES:  You think it’s done?  You think no racism every again in the NBA?

    KEVIN JOHNSON:  Oh, no, I don’t know how we got to that conclusion from my comments.  So that’s not what I was saying by any means.  I was just in isolation talking about a ruling yesterday that took place with the one incident that became very apparent, and Commissioner Silver, you know, spoke out really harshly.  You know, my job as a representative of the players, was to make sure that I communicated the three things they wanted to have happen to Commissioner Silver.  Number one, they wanted an immediate investigation, they wanted due process.  Number two, they wanted their voices to be heard.  They did not want to be passive participants, they want to have a seat at the table, and to be able to weigh in.  And number three, they wanted the maximum allowable punishment under the NBA bylaws, and that meant there must be a change in ownership.  And that took place.  So from that standpoint it was a really good day.

    TOM JOYNER:  But can they really make him sell the team?

    KEVIN JOHNSON:  Yeah, let me tell you this.  This is – I mean you guys are asking really good questions.  Number one, when Commissioner Silver said yesterday there will be a lifetime ban that means I have the discretion as a commissioner to do that, I don’t need a vote to do that.  So there will be a lifetime ban.  Number two, when I can fine somebody $2.5 million dollars as commissioner, I have that authority, that’s going to happen.  A lifetime ban, $2.5 million dollars fine and you are barred from participating in any clipper game, any NBA game, any board of governors activity.  You can’t participate in the league.  That’s going to happen regardless.  It’s irrelevant.  Lastly now the Commissioner is saying I am going to recommend a force of sell, meaning this team will change ownership.  I need three quarters of the NBA owners to support it.  And if you look online right now or hear comments, all the NBA owners are lining up behind this commissioner, there will be a sale of that team.

    ROLAND MARTIN:  I’ve got to ask you this, Mayor.  Jason Whitlock talked about something bigger, something broader.  What is next for the players?  Because you talked about this defining moment, you mentioned people like Bill Russell, you mentioned people like John Carlos, but are the players going to take their activism to the next level?  Are the players going to use this opportunity to say; this was an opportunity for us to find our voice, now what is next for us to truly be those kind of pioneers beyond the court or what happens off the court?

    KEVIN JOHNSON:  You know, Roland, this was a great start.  I mean think about this, these players, in this league, they spoke out on social media immediately.  Every player from Labron James to Kobe Bryant.  And the message was the same; this person, Mr. Sterling, should not be a part of this league.  And then after the emotion, after the anger and outrage subsided, then what the players said; we need to be thoughtful.  And if we’re going to be thoughtful, Mayor Johnson, we need you to go communicate this to Commissioner Silver.  We want him to know that we’re going to give him a chance to weigh in on this before we figure out what our next steps are.  In the meantime, what players did, is they did a silent protest.  They wore black socks, they wore black wristbands.  They turned their jerseys inside out and that was a silent protest.  If the commissioner did not weigh in as severely as he did I cannot tell you in good conscious that there would not have been a boycott.

    ROLAND MARTIN:  Let me ask you this question real quick; did you have a number of players who are already committed to boycott the games if Silver did not do what he did yesterday.

    KEVIN JOHNSON:  Yes, there were players that were committed to doing that.

    TOM JOYNER:  How many?

    ROLAND MARTIN:  Across the league?

    KEVIN JOHNSON:  A number of players.  I can’t tell you the actual number, but there were a number of players.

    SYBIL WILKES:  In each team that’s in the post season?

    KEVIN JOHNSON:  At least three teams, I believe.

    TOM JOYNER:  Wow.  All right, Roland’s commentary is brought to you by TD1.  I’m gonna play Stevie Wonder next because I still think they haven’t done nothing.  Two and a half million, a ban …

    SYBIL WILKES:  For life.

    TOM JOYNER:  But you haven’t done nothing.

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