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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban apologized Thursday to Trayvon Martin’s family over his choice of words in a videotaped interview in which he addressed bigotry and prejudice.
Cuban even revealed some of his own prejudices in the interview with Inc. magazine, and said he believes everyone has ‘prejudices and bigotries’ on some level.
But after his words – which came with the NBA still dealing with the fallout over racist remarks made by now-banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling – created a stir in social media and other circles, Cuban took to Twitter to offer his apology.
‘In hindsight I should have used different examples,’ Cuban wrote. ‘I didn’t consider the Trayvon Martin family, and I apologize to them for that.’
‘Beyond apologizing to the Martin family, I stand by the words and the substance of the interview,’ Cuban wrote.
Martin was the black Florida teen who was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in February 2012. Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt – commonly called a ‘hoodie’ – that night, and that particular piece of clothing became a rallying cry for those who demanded justice.
Zimmerman was eventually acquitted.
Earlier in the day, billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban faced huge criticism after admitting that he would cross the street if he saw ‘a black kid in a hoodie’.
Cuban made the remarks as he spoke about bigotry after he was asked at a business conference to address the controversy over banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
In the interview, which was shown on Wednesday at the GrowCo convention hosted by Inc magazine, he said that overcoming bigotry requires acknowledging internal prejudices.
‘I know I’m prejudiced and I know I’m bigoted in a lot of different ways,’ he said.
‘If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face – white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere – I’m walking back to the other side of the street.’
‘The list goes on – of stereotypes that we all live up to and that we’re fearful of,’ he continued.
‘I know that I’m not perfect. While we all have our prejudices and bigotries, we have to learn that it’s an issue that we have to control, that it’s part of my responsibility as an entrepreneur to try to solve it, not just to kick the problem down the road.’
After the interview was shared online, Cuban was lambasted for his comments.
Critics said his ‘hoodie’ reference recalled the 2012 shooting of unarmed, black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt when he was fatally wounded in a struggle with a man who said he feared for his life.
Cuban defended his views on Twitter, saying that his quotes were not meant to advocate racism.
‘The point was that before we can help others deal w racism we have to be honest about ourselves,’ Cuban wrote in a tweet.
‘You’re trying to make this about a Hoodie,’ he said to another tweeter. ‘You know damn well its not [sic]. It’s about whatever makes you feel threatened.’
Fellow NBA owner Sterling was banned for life from the sport and fined $2.5 million after a recording of him surfaced where he made comments about race that included telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to his team’s games.
Last month, Cuban, who is worth $2.6 billion, condemned his comments as ‘abhorrent’ and ‘obviously racist’, the New York Daily News reported.
But he initially opposed calls to ban him from the NBA, saying it would be a ‘very slippery slope’ if the league forced an owner to sell the team.
‘In no uncertain terms am I supporting what Donald Sterling said, or his position,’ Cuban said. ‘He’s obviously racist, he’s obviously bigoted. And in this day and age when you’re in the public eye you’ve got to be damn careful – if that’s your position and that’s unfortunately where you’re at – you better be damn careful what you say, even in the privacy of your own home.
‘But regardless of your background, regardless of the history they have, if we’re taking something somebody said in their home and we’re trying to turn it into something that leads to you being forced to divest property in any way, shape or form, that’s not the United States of America. I don’t want to be part of that.’