Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar suggested on Monday that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist rant is at least partially his girlfriend’s fault.
“And now the poor guy’s girlfriend (undoubtedly ex-girlfriend now) is on tape cajoling him into revealing his racism,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in a blog post for Time. “Man, what a winding road she led him down to get all of that out. She was like a sexy nanny playing ‘pin the fried chicken on the Sambo.’ She blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee.”
Abdul-Jabbar also complained about the media’s decision to just now cover Sterling’s racism.
“They caught big game on a slow news day, so they put his head on a pike, dubbed him Lord of the Flies, and danced around him whooping,” he wrote, noting that he does somewhat understand people’s reaction to Sterling’s latest comments.
“What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise,” Abdul-Jabbar continued. “Now there’s all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All this other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge?”
The former Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers star was also annoyed that outlets publicized a private conversation, comparing the leak to the infamous Mitt Romney 47 percent video, which was taped at a private event.
“Didn’t we just call to task the NSA for intruding into American citizen’s privacy in such an un-American way? Although the impact is similar to Mitt Romney’s comments that were secretly taped, the difference is that Romney was giving a public speech. The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime,” he wrote.
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh made a similar point on Monday, asking why people were just now publicizing Sterling’s racism when previous instances were a matter of public record.
“The big question is ‘What should be done next?'” went on Abdul-Jabbar. “I hope Sterling loses his franchise. I hope whoever made this illegal tape is sent to prison. I hope the Clippers continue to be unconditionally supported by their fans. I hope the Clippers realize that the ramblings of an 80-year-old man jealous of his young girlfriend don’t define who they are as individual players or as a team.”
“Let’s use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying: ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom,'” he added. “Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs.”
This post has been updated.