WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Director Spike Lee compares Donald Sterling to a slave master following the Los Angeles Clippers owner’s alleged racist comments.
“He’s got to go because he’s tainting all the other 29 partners, he’s tainting the league and he’s tainting America,” Lee told CNN Monday. “And when you hear something like that, that is a mentality of a slave master. He sees his players as slaves.”
Sterling has come under fire for audio recordings obtained by TMZ and Deadspin where he allegedly tells his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, that it bothers him that she associates herself with black people.
Lee said that during All-Star weekend in Los Angeles in 2011, Sterling told him that NBA players wouldn’t have jobs if they didn’t play basketball.
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“We were at a restaurant and Donald Sterling called us over to his table … and he started to say, ‘Why are they going on strike? We should pay all the players $500,000. If they don’t play basketball, they won’t have a job,’” Lee recalled to CNN.
Lee said he also wishes white NBA players spoke out.
“Outside from Dirk Nowitzki, I really never heard from the white players,” Lee told CNN.
President Barack Obama said Sunday that comments reportedly made by Sterling are “incredibly offensive racist statements,” before casting them as part of a continuing legacy of slavery and segregation that Americans must confront.
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” Obama said.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that Sterling has been banned for life and fined $2.5 million, the maximum under the league’s constitution. Silver also said he will try to force the sale of the team.
The Clippers host Golden State on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
“He should not continue owning the clippers,” Lakers star Kobe Bryant wrote Monday on Twitter.
Fallout from the Sterling scandal continued Monday, with CarMax — the nation’s largest retailer of used vehicles — ending its sponsorship of the team. The company said in a statement it finds the statements attributed to Sterling “completely unacceptable.”
“While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for nine years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship,” it added.
Portions of the recordings were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin. Silver’s first step in the process was to authenticate that Sterling’s voice is on the tape, and while the NBA has not confirmed that it is, Sterling’s wife attributed the comments to her husband.
“Our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband,” Rochelle Sterling said in a statement sent KABC-TV in Los Angeles. “My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices. We will not let one man’s small mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love. We are doing everything in our power to stand by and support our Clippers team.”
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