Looking beyond Donald Sterling

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(NNPA)—By now, everyone knows the story of Los Angeles Clipper’s owner, Donald Sterling’s banishment from the National Basketball Association (NBA) for his racist comments captured on audio tape last month. What Sterling said was totally stupid and insulting. Period!  I don’t think there is any disagreement from anyone on that issue.

In the past, I have been very critical of professional athletes for their unwillingness to take a public stand on any controversial issues.  You can argue whether the NBA players were aggressive enough in their protests, but at least they did protest. The Sterling issue was so bizarre that even Michael Jordan publically denounced him. You’re talking about miracles!

For a generation of athletes who have no idea what real sacrifice is all about, they made me proud. Yes, they know about sacrifice relative to playing their sport (playing through pain and injury); but they have yet to show a willingness to give up their sport, even temporarily, to take a principled stand on anything—until now.

When I think of professional athletes taking a principled stand in sports, I think of people such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Curt Flood, or Spencer Haywood.

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