In a statement released Tuesday, Rev. Al Sharpton expressed his support for NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to ban embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life. Sharpton, who had previously threatened to lead a boycott of the NBA if the league failed to suspend Sterling, released the following statement, as reported by News One:
“The lifetime banning of Donald Sterling is a bold and appropriate action in this matter. This is a huge victory for those of us that stood against this ugly display of racism. We must continue to make unequivocal stands against bigotry and racism. I look forward to speaking to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and beginning the dialogue with other civil rights leaders right away to discuss putting in measures to make sure this never happens again.”
-Rev. Al Sharpton
In recent days, Sharpton has emerged as one of Sterling’s most vocal critics. Wasting little time in reacting to the comments, Sharpton appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press Sunday morning to call for Sterling’s suspension. In several related media engagements this week, Sharpton also expressed his frustration with the NBA, stating that he believed it may be necessary for the league to disband the team altogether.
Prior to Tuesday’s announcement, Sharpton revealed to TMZ that he was planning a rally “in front of the National Basketball Association in New York. And I’ve talked to my people in L.A. about rallying in front of the game.” Sharpton also expressed his support for protests by both fans and players. Earlier on Tuesday, Sharpton was set to meet with Congressional Black Caucus members. Following Silver’s announcement that he planned to address the matter, Sharpton requested that he meet with that group in advance of the press conference.
Meanwhile, Politico reports that Sharpton and his National Action Network have chosen to lend their support, along with the NAACP, National Urban League, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and Black Women’s Roundtable, to a joint statement praising the decision.
While applauding the NBA’s punishment of Sterling, the joint statement did address allegations that his views were widely known in the league. In direct and forthright language, the statement accused the NBA of turning a “gentle hand and a blind eye” to Sterling’s “long-established pattern of bigotry and racist comments.” Despite those accusations, the statement did call upon Commissioner Silver and the NBA to meet with the groups in question, “to discuss the broader issue of diversity – off the court and in the owner ranks – in the NBA.”
Sharpton’s comments were not without their detractors, however. Both Bill O’Riley and Eric Bolling voiced opposition to Sharpton through their respective outlets. Bolling, in particular, called into question Sharpton’s knowledge of Sterling’s opinions.