BOSTON (CBS) – Former Celtic and NBA veteran Keyon Dooling joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show Tuesday morning to discuss the racially insensitive comments made by his former employer Donald Sterling, owner of the Clippers.
Dooling, who got his start in the NBA with Los Angeles, spent four seasons as a member of the Clippers and was well aware of Sterling’s prejudicial past.
“[Sterling’s] rap sheet has followed him as far as his business practices, his ideology and how he sees the world,” said Dooling. “But it’s America. It’s a place where you can have that freedom to believe what you believe, say what you want to say and worship who you want to worship. Everybody is entitled to their opinion.”
The audio tape released by TMZ further damages Sterling’s reputation, which wasn’t great to begin with in terms of tolerance. The way in which he talked about his players is reprehensible to hear, but his bigotry stretches much deeper than the men on his basketball team.
“Racism still exists. It’s just hidden behind certain systems and certain tools or instruments that’s put in place. At a level as high as his it’s really, really damaging because he has such an economical impact. He has such an impact on employment and how people get bids for contracts and real estate. So to know he discriminated at such a high level, imagine how many people didn’t get just due, or fair process, or get those contracts just because of the color of their skin.”
Dooling, an African American, is rightfully upset at the comments. However, he sees this as a learning experience and teaching opportunity.
“It’s really unfortunate, but I always feel like when hate comes out it’s a good time to combat hate with love. You can’t fight hate with hate.
“What I would like to see is Mr. Sterling kind of be re-educated, get to know some blacks and browns, and hopefully shift his thinking so that he can really truly find out that he’s not the source, he just has a lot of resources. He can do so much better than he has been doing from the way he sees the world. It’s a great time to challenge him to grow.”
While Dooling was not on the receiving end of any specific racism from Donald Sterling, he always got the sense that he viewed minorities different than Caucasians.
“Donald spoke very frankly. He sees blacks as entertainers. You can entertain with them. You can sleep with them. You can do whatever you want to them, just don’t promote them. Don’t publicize them. Don’t treat them as an equal. You can be entertained from them, you can make money off them, but we can’t really associate with them. Historically that’s always been in the circles that he runs in.
“There’s an element of [racism] in our country at a very high level. When you have an opportunity to open up that dialogue, you have to take advantage of them to keep our country moving forward,” said Dooling.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers has condemned the remarks of his owner and is obviously in a tough position trying to get his team ready to play in the postseason while dealing with all the outside turmoil surrounding the organization.
Dooling played for Rivers during his time with the Celtics and recently reached out to the coach to let him know he had his back. For Dooling’s money, there’s no better coach in the NBA to handle a situation as contentious as this.
“[Doc] is an NBA lifer. His son is in the league. His family is entrenched in the NBA brand. Doc has gone through some things. He’s had his house burned down because of his interracial marriage. Doc has seen some prejudice in his life. I think he’s done a great job stepping out in front of it, taking a stance, being strong, but also getting his team prepared to play.”
Doc isn’t the only member of the team to come out against the racial remarks from Sterling. In a showing of unity and symbolism, Clippers players tossed their warm up jerseys over the logo at halfcourt and turned their tops inside out so “Clippers” would not be shown.
Some feel like the Clippers could be doing more to protest, but Dooling thinks what they did, and are doing, is enough.
“I think they should play ball. We never play for the owners. We really don’t have relationships with team ownership. I played for seven teams and I’ve really only had conversations with two owners. … They need to play ball, but they also need to take a stance and challenge the system and hold Donald accountable for his words.”
Listen below for the full interview, including Dooling raising awareness for a cause dear to his heart and his message to the Montreal Canadiens: