As the finger wagging continues and the backlash against Clippers owner Donald Sterling continues, some executives like New York Knicks business operations representative, Larry Johnson may need to step back and look in the mirror. Following the racist comments that have ignited a firestorm and completely overshadowed the exciting first round of games, recent comments made by Larry Johnson come off as being no different than the now banned-for-life owner.
Larry Johnson, the ex-Knicks player and now member of the executive office for the Knicks has recently made statements that seemingly call for an all-black league. A tweet sent out by Johnson, under the name @TheRealLJ2 says that black people are focusing on the wrong thing, saying that “We should be focusing on having our own, Own League.”
In a wise decision on Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Sterling banned the Clippers owner for life, and fined him $2.5 million for his racist remarks. The only issue with this ruling is that it could potentially open a major can of worms, and if racist and indecent remarks now become ground for league banishment, they might find that there are a lot of skeletons in the closets of owners, players, coaches, and individuals associated with teams and organizations. Comments made by Larry Johnson, an acting executive in the league was put out there for the world to see, but yet the media buzz has been nearly non-existent surrounding his comments. It is worth contemplating how his comments are any different than Donald Sterling’s.
In a day and age when society would like to believe that racism and hatred is a thing of the past, those beliefs are quickly dropped on their head when comments from powerful figures go public. There is no denying that hatred and discrimination still exists, and at times the hatred that bubbles just below the surface or is locked behind closed doors makes its way to the surface into the lights of the NBA playoff season. Only then do people stand to listen, and only then does the public take notice and react. It is appalling when things like this happen, and it reminds everyone of a past that was not so pleasant, and makes people question their historical ancestors. It reminds people of a darker time—a time that should not be forgotten, but remembered so that it will not happen again. Reminders can be difficult, but they are important so that people can move forward and live their lives. As individuals, people can only strive to treat each other fairly as they live in a society of many mixed cultures, religions and beliefs.
Comments made by former Knicks great, and now current executive Larry Johnson does not move the conversation forward—instead it moves it backwards, and for that he needs to take a step back, look in the mirror and ask who the hateful person is in this case. If his answer is only pointing the figure at someone else, instead of right back at the face staring back at him, he needs to question his own thought process.
This past week has been a complete media blitz that has brought race relations to the forefront. It has been bad for everyone, and the attention it has received sets our society back as opposed to driving it forward. The problem is, even though Donald Sterling has been handed one of the harshest punishments imaginable, there are always going to be guys like Larry Johnson that remind everyone that this is not strictly a white versus black issue, or a black versus white issue, this is a universal issue. Larry Johnson is a reminder to people that hatred runs far deeper than the occasional bigot owner, and that it can seep far deeper than what people have wanted to believe.
Commentary by Johnny Caito