If I were walking down the street and encountered someone wearing a hoodie, of any race, I wouldn't cross the street to avoid him or her. Same if it were someone with tattoos and a bald head. Would my guard be elevated? Perhaps.
His examples were clunky, but I think what Mark Cuban said Thursday regarding racism was honest and universal. He related a lot of things many of us think, but don't have the courage to say.
The awkwardness of Cuban's example of encountering people on the street says a lot about racism. Even someone as smart and articulate as the Dallas Mavericks' billionaire owner has a difficult time expressing his precise feelings on the topic.
When the Donald Sterling racist-comments issue first erupted my initial reaction was the same as many, if not most people -- this guy's a cretin and a terrible human being and he needs to be out of the NBA.
I was on vacation in Las Vegas, so I didn't write about it. And about a day later my thoughts had changed to, hey, even if this guy is a cretin and a terrible human being, he's within his rights to say what he wants, right? Should he be penalized by having his business taken away?
Especially considering Sterling's less-publicized prior record of unsavory behavior, it became obvious that this was an issue of timing and the NBA had to act quickly in admonishment of Sterling or perhaps suffer a player walkout in the middle of the playoffs.
With his comments, Cuban expounded on why punishing Sterling for unpopular thoughts, beliefs and speech is a "slippery slope" as he described it early on.
If you read or watch the entire interview you will get much more out of it than via snippets, which can easily be misinterpreted in the context of what Cuban is really trying to say. Cuban doesn't say how he will vote in the June 3 owners' meeting, in which a three-quarters vote can terminate his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers. Now Sterling has agreed to turn over his stake in the franchise to his wife, and that could complicate or simplify things.
I applaud Cuban for speaking so candidly, and also for apologizing to Trayvon Martin's family for the hoodie example while standing by his overall message and stimulating discussion of a topic that is important for all Americans, basketball fans or not.