Racial comments reportedly made by the owner of a pro basketball team are "ignorant" and "incredibly offensive," President Obama said Sunday in Malaysia.
"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don't really have to do anything — you just let them talk," Obama said of alleged comments by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. "And that's what happened here."
In a newly disclosed audio tape, a man reported to be Sterling admonished a woman for appearing in public with black men.
Asked about those comments during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Obama said, "I don't think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves."
The president said he is confident that National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver "will address this" on behalf of the league's many fans.
"Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country," Obama said. "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."
Obama said he also wanted to make a larger point about the Sterling flap:
"The United States continues to wrestle with a 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 had been — there has been this shift in how we view ourselves."
"Sterling was allegedly the speaker on an audio recording posted on TMZ's website. It caught a man arguing with a woman about her posting of pictures with African Americans on the Internet and asking her not to bring black people to Clippers games.
" 'It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associating with black people. Do you have to?' Sterling allegedly told his girlfriend."