DALLAS (CBSNewYork/AP) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban called Donald Sterling’s purported comments about minorities “abhorrent” while saying he didn’t think the NBA could force him out as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Speaking in Dallas’ locker room before Game 4 of a first-round series against San Antonio on Monday night, Cuban said he trusted Commissioner Adam Silver to “operate under the best interest of the NBA.”
The outspoken billionaire said it was a “slippery slope” to suggest that Sterling should be forced out as owner over comments made in the privacy of his home.
“What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent,” Cuban said. “There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with. But at the same time, that’s a decision I make. I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope.”
Two days earlier, Cuban declined to give his opinion over the brewing saga of the racist comments that Sterling is alleged to have made in a taped conversation.
While he was more forceful in his rebuke of Sterling in front of about two dozen reporters Monday, Cuban questioned how the league would legislate other forms of discrimination.
“How many people are bigoted in one way or the other in this league?” Cuban asked. “I don’t know. But you find one, all of a sudden you say well, you can’t play favorites being racist against African-Americans. Where do you draw the line?”
Asked if the league would be better off without Sterling as an owner, Cuban said, “At this point, yes.”
“But that has nothing to do with the rules that we have to live by,” Cuban said. “There’s a lot of things I don’t agree with that by letter and rule of law has to happen anyway. When you live in a country of laws, you want to support there are laws.”
Cuban said it would be “damn scary” if the league set a precedent by trying to boot Sterling.
“In this country, people are allowed to be morons,” Cuban said. “They’re allowed to be stupid. They’re allowed to think idiotic thoughts.”
He added: “But regardless of your background, regardless of the history they have, if we’re taking something somebody said in their home and we’re trying to turn it into something that leads to you being forced to divest property in any way, shape or form, that’s not the United States of America. I don’t want to be part of that.”
Cuban noted that he recently fought the Securities and Exchange Commission over claims that he broke laws on insider trading. And he has remained outspoken against the SEC since he won the civil lawsuit the agency filed against him over the sale of his shares in an Internet company.
“Yet I still support the rule of law,” Cuban said. “There’s a reason why we have a (league) constitution. It’s worked for 50, however many years. It will continue to work.”
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