By Kyle Balluck
President Obama said Sunday that reported racial statements made by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers were “incredibly offensive,” adding that the U.S. “continues to wrestle with a legacy of race and slavery and segregation.”
“I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves,” Obama said during a press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur.
TMZ posted audio of a man identified as Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend during a heated argument not to bring black people to his games.
“I am confident that the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, a good man, will address this,” Obama said. “Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country. It’s got an awful lot of African-American players. It’s steeped in African-American culture. And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.”
“The audio recording posted by TMZ is truly offensive and disturbing, and we intend to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible,” Silver said.
“All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy, which is why I am not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling,” Silver added. “We will, however, move extraordinarily quickly in our investigation.”
Obama said in Malaysia that the United States ”continues to wrestle with a legacy of race and slavery and segregation that’s still there — the vestiges of discrimination.”
“We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often,” the president added. “And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there had been — there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.
“And like Malaysia, we constantly have to be on guard against racial attitudes that divide us, rather than embracing our diversity as a strength. And I know that the people of Malaysia are committed to wrestling with those issues as well. We have to make sure that we stay on top of it — and we will,” Obama said.