Local team reacts to Clippers controversy

By Tim Pulliam, General assignment reporter, tpulliam@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 29 2014 09:38:53 PM EDT
Updated On: Apr 29 2014 11:40:48 PM EDT

VIDEO: The Los Angeles Clippers' owner is dealt a life time ban from the team he owns, and the NBA.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Locals are reacting to the sanctions the NBA has placed on L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. His punishment includes a lifetime ban on the organization and a $2.5 million fine.

The NBA is also asking Sterling to sell them his team, and people are supporting the NBA's decision.

Basketball coach Deon Johnson said Sterling's racist rant definitely had an effect on his team.

"I think some of my athletes were shocked, (but) none verbalized that they were hurt," said Johnson.

Johnson coaches the Jacksonville Tigers, a traveling basketball league made up of young African-American boys and teens. He said Donald Sterling's racial remarks in a recorded conversation with his girlfriend had his players asking questions. 

"I try to teach the young men not take offense but continue to move forward," said Johnson. "And that happened in the midst of us playing a tough tournament in Augusta, and they continued to persevere."

Johnson's son Deon II also plays on the team and was disappointed by Sterling's comments.

"I was kind of surprised, but then in a way I wasn't," Deon II said. "Sometimes it just comes out of the blue. But then you realize racism and hatred is still around today."

Johnson said it's a tough lesson his players and son had to learn from a sport often known for bringing people together.

"Just as they are sometimes irresponsible in their actions, adults can be irresponsible as well," said Johnson.

The local president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Opio Sokoni, said this should be a wake-up call to everyone not to make racist comments in private.

"We are all in this together. Everybody need to look at themselves. If what they are saying in private is hurtful, then that could ultimately be on all types of media, like Facebook," said Sokoni. "We are thankful that it did because those other people are now able to take a look at those things."

Pastor Steven Dobb, from Paxon Revival Center Church, leads one of the most diverse congregations in Jacksonville. He said Sterlings' racist remarks hurt the Christian community's effort to bring people together.

"Here in America, let's get over the color thing," said Dobb. "We are all created from the start with Adam and Eve. We are all created in the likeness and image of God."

So far Sterling has not made a public comment about the NBA's punishment against him.

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