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President Obama Addresses Clippers Owner Sterling’s Alleged Racist Comments

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MALAYSIA (CBSLA.com) — Thus far, the allegedly racist comments from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has triggered reactions from his players, his coach, former all-stars, and a number of public figures — including the President of the United States.

President Barack Obama addressed Sterling’s controversial comments during a press conference in Malaysia — a testament that the comments have progressed beyond the NBA.

“The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive, racist statements, that were published,” President Obama said. “I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you, they kind of speak for themselves. When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk, and that’s what happened here.”

Sterling is reported to have made racist comments, caught on an audio clip and released by TMZ. In the audio clip, Sterling appears to be urging a woman not to bring black people to his games. A series of backlash from some of the NBA’s most well-respected personalities followed the release of the clip.

After former Los Angeles Laker star Magic Johnson suggested Sterling sell the team as a form of amends, NBA legend Michael Jordan shared that he was “disgusted” by the comments.

President Obama, a known NBA fan and the first African-American to hold the nation’s highest office, says that he believes the NBA will ultimately take the appropriate steps to address the issue.

“I have confidence that the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, a good man, will address this,” President Obama continued. “Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country, it’s got an awful lot of African-American players, it’s steeped in African-American culture, and I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.”

The president concluded the thought with the idea that, while racial discrimination is still an issue in society today, the fact that Sterling’s comments, along with the reaction to those comments, have received so much public attention is a testament to how far society has come in tolerance.

“I will make just one larger comment about this,” President Obama began. “The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race, and slavery, and segregation. That’s still there — the vestiges of discrimination. We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often. And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves. And, like Malaysia, we constantly have to be on guard against racial attitudes that divide us, rather than embracing our diversity as strength.”

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