LOS ANGELES, April 29 (UPI) -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former Los Angeles Lakers star and former Clippers assistant, penned a column for Time.com about America's response to the furor over Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life by the NBA on Tuesday.
Though Abdul-Jabbar writes that he was repulsed by the racist remarks attributed to Sterling, he also criticizes the media for sensationalizing this particular story while ignoring other acts of racism.
Sterling is the "latest in a long line of rich white celebrities to come out of the racist closet," Abdul-Jabbar writes, noting disgraced celebrity chef Paula Deen and Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.
"Racists deserve to be paraded around the modern town square of the television screen so that the rest of us who believe in the American ideals of equality can be reminded that racism is still a disease that we haven’t yet licked," he continues. "What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise."
He goes on to point out Sterling's spotty history with race issues, according alleged housing discrimination against minorities.
"He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing," Abdul-Jabbar says. "It was public record. We did nothing. Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope. Shouldn’t we have all called for his resignation back then?"
"Let’s use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying: 'Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.' Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs," he added.
After the news about Sterling's lifelong ban on Monday, Abdul-Jabar told reporters that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handled the incident "the right way."
"It's going to be a new day here in this city," he said.