Former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told ABC Sunday that "more whites believe in ghosts than they do in racism."
Abdul-Jabbar appeared on “This Week” calling racism a systemic problem, when asked about the scandal revolving around Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
“I did a little bit of research: more whites believe in ghosts than believe in racism,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “That’s why we have shows like Ghostbusters and not shows like Racistbusters.”
“It’s something that’s still part of our culture,” he continued. “People hold on to some of these ideas and practices, just out of habit and saying, ‘Well, that’s the way it always was.’ But things have to change.”
He said public attention needs to be focused of racism in sports and the issues underlying it.
“I think all the NBA has to do right now is keep the issue in people’s minds when it’s appropriate,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “It’s not something you can constantly be harping on. But when it’s appropriate, and they see people doing things that don’t line up with how we’re supposed to be feeling about things, then people have to speak up. It’s like watching the temperature. Somebody gets a temperature, something might be wrong. You gotta deal with it quickly.”
In an op-ed for TIME this week Abdul-Jabbar wrote that Sterling is “the latest in a long line of rich white celebrities to come out of the racist closet.”
Citing a history of “discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing,” he wrote that he doesn’t know why people were surprised by Sterling’s recorded comments.
“What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism,” he wrote. “I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise. Now there’s all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All this other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That’s the smoking gun?”