‘This Week' Transcript: Sen. Al Franken, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

SMITH: On Thursday, an advisory committee of NBA owners met to agree on the process for removing Sterling from ownership. And they agreed to move forward as, quote, "expeditiously as possible."

They'll convene again this week to try to move that process forward -- George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Ryan, thanks for that.

Let's bring in one of the greatest NBA players ever, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Thank you for coming in this morning.

I was struck by this essay you wrote in TIME magazine, scathing essay. Welcome to the finger wagging Olympics.

And one of things that you said bothers you most is how everyone acted as if this was a huge surprise.

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, NBA LEGEND: Yeah, it certainly should not have been a surprise to anybody that was paying any attention to Mr. Sterling over any period of time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You worked with him back in 2000, you coached the Clippers for a bit.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And what did you see then? Did you see a racist?

ABDUL-JABBAR: No, I didn't see a racist then. Mr. Sterling for the most part was gracious, came invited me to his daughter's wedding. You know I didn't feel that there was any racial animus in the man. But when I saw what was just portrayed there, you know, how he discriminated against blacks and other minorities it started to bother me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And what do you think the league can do now? We saw Adam Silver come out. You supported his ban, his lifetime ban. But you know Sterling a little bit. It sure appears that he's likely to fight this.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Yeah, if past performance is any indication he's going to fight it and do whatever he -- take whatever legal recourses he has to avoid the sanctions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And do you think the league can force him out?

ABDUL-JABBAR: I think they have the legal leverage to do that. Have to see, you don't know for sure, but the way things are going now I think that they have a very good chance of keeping him away from the game.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What about the underlying issues that Ryan brought up in his piece, did you bring up in your piece, the kind of idea that the league for a long time turned a blind eye to his actions and that the country is still struggling with lingering racism.

ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, this is a problem. I did a little bit of research, more whites believe in ghosts than believe in racism. That's why we don't have -- that why we have shows like Ghostbusters and don't have shows like Racistbuster. You know, it's something that's still part of our culture and people hold on to some of these ideas and practices just out of habit and saying that well that's the way it always was. But things have to change.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I was struck by a piece in the New York Times by Tim Egan who called sports the most progressive force in America and says that if you want to find racial progress in America look to the games we play. Sports has been in the vanguard in -- certainly in the past of promoting racial reconciliation. What more can the NBA do right now?

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...