- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, whose nuanced discussion on race and prejudice sparked controversy the past couple of days, believes this is a good time to address the sensitive subjects because the Donald Sterling saga has put a spotlight on the issues.
"As far as people saying, 'Well, it's a sensitive time,' there is no non-sensitive time when it comes to race," Cuban said Friday on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, speaking publicly for the first time since his interview with Inc. magazine went viral. "Maybe I'm wrong, but the best time in my opinion to talk about it is when it's the center of attention, when it's a mainstream topic that a lot of different people are discussing.
"I knew that anytime somebody wants to speak honestly about race, there are going to be some people that don't appreciate it, don't like it. That's just the way it goes."
Cuban's comments came at a particularly sensitive time for the NBA, which is in the midst of trying to force Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after he made racially charged comments caught on audiotape. Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by NBA commissioner Adam Silver after the release by TMZ of a recording in which he told a female friend, V. Stiviano, not to bring black people to Clippers games.
On Monday, Sterling was charged with damaging the league with his racist comments, and he has until Tuesday, May 27, to respond to the charge. If Sterling does not respond by then, it would be grounds for termination. Silver's decision of a lifetime ban for Sterling is subject to a vote by other team owners on June 3, with the commissioner needing three-quarters of the vote to enforce his decision.
"I'm going to keep an open mind, and I'm going to listen and decide what I decide," Cuban said Friday of the vote.
Cuban said he is "100 percent proud" of his original comments on the issues other than using some poor examples to convey his own prejudices while attempting to emphasize the importance of acknowledging personal flaws and evolving as a society.
Cuban unintentionally evoked memories of unarmed South Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's shooting death in 2012 by saying a "black kid in a hoodie" would instill fear in him on the streets late at night. He also cited a "white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere" as a stereotype he's fearful of.
On Thursday, Cuban apologized publicly to Martin's family via Twitter. Cuban said on 105.3 The Fan's "Ben and Skin Show" on Friday that he also emailed the Martin family and received a reply.
"Clearly, I wouldn't use the hoodie example [again], because that kind of distracted from the discussion and it wasn't very appropriate given what happened to the Martin family, so I offered my apologies to the Martin family," Cuban said. "Excluding that, I would do it all again, same way, every day."
Cuban said the vast majority of the reaction he has received after his comments, made during the Inc. interview and an ensuing appearance at the magazine's GrowCo convention Wednesday, has been supportive.
"It's been 99 percent positive except in some of the media," Cuban said. "With a topic like this, you're always going to have people who take sides. That's probably where I've gotten the most grief, but the good news is I haven't really watched it. I've just gotten it secondhand, and I kind of expected it. I knew when I was saying it that it was going to cause a firestorm in some respects, but the audience I was talking to was full of entrepreneurs and business people. It's a topic that's important to them, and right now, it's something they're going through, particularly because all the Donald Sterling stuff brought a lot of attention to them.
"Whenever I give a talk or get interviewed, I try to be appropriate to the audience, and it was certainly appropriate to discuss my feelings and how I approached it. It's kind of unfortunate that the hoodie part of it misdirected people from the conversation, but for the people who really were interested in the subject or cared about the importance of the subject, and for those people who actually run their own businesses or are starting their own business, it was informative and hopefully helpful."
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