Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and center DeJuan Blair (45) celebrate during the second half against the San Antonio Spurs in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Spurs 113-111. (USA TODAY Sports: Jerome Miron)
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, in an interview focused on many societal issues, told Inc. that even he harbors “prejudices and bigotries.”
The interview was posted to Cuban’s Twitter page, and ranges in scope from economics to the NBA’s hottest topic, disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Cuban, asked what he does to combat bigotry and racism he encounters in his daily life, offered a cast-the-first-stone response.
“If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face — white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere — I’m walking back to the other side of the street,” he said. “I know that I’m not perfect. While we all have our prejudices and bigotries, we have to learn that it’s an issue that we have to control, that it’s part of my responsibility as an entrepreneur to try to solve it, not just to kick the problem down the road.”
Cuban reacted harshly and promptly when news leaked of Sterling’s audio-recorded comments, a rant secretly recorded by his girlfriend and released nationally. He said the comments were “abhorrent and obviously racist” but cautioned banning an owner by forcing them to sell was a “slippery slope.”
In the interview at the GrowCo Conference in Nashville, Cuban said he is addressing his own weaknesses and has hope many others will do the same.
“In this day and age, this country has really come a long way putting any type of bigotry behind us, regardless of who it’s toward,” Cuban said Wednesday. “We’ve come a long way, and with that progress comes a price. We’re a lot more vigilant and we’re a lot less tolerant of different views, and it’s not necessarily easy for everybody to adapt or evolve.”
The NBA is moving in fast-forward to have Sterling removed. He was fined $2.5 million — the maximum allowed under the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement terms on owner behavior and recourse — and barred from any contact with the team. An interim CEO is in place with head coach Doc Rivers operating as the final voice on basketball-related matters. Rivers, who is black, has been a visible and outspoken face against any level of tolerance for the bigoted beliefs and opinions shared by Sterling in the audio recording.
A vote will be taken by all NBA owners in June, and Cuban said Wednesday he knows how he’ll vote but is not ready to comment on it. Cuban did offer a hint when commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sterling, pledging full support of the decision. Yet this week Cuban reportedly said he hates that he might offer a hypocritical tally when the Board of Governors convenes. At the GrowCo convention, Cuban repeatedly spoke with forgiveness as the root of growth being a central idea.
“I’ll try to give them a chance to improve themselves, because I think that helping people improve their lives, helping people engage with people they may fear or may not understand, and helping people realize that while we all may have our prejudices and bigotries we have to learn that it’s an issue that we have to control, that it’s part of my responsibility as an entrepreneur to try to solve it, not just to kick the problem down the road,” Cuban said. “Because it does my company no good, it does my customers no good, it does society no good if my response to somebody and their racism and bigotry is to say, ‘It’s not right for you to be here. Go take your attitude somewhere else.’”