Michael Jordan of NBA fame said in a new book, "Michael Jordan: The Life," written by sportswriter Roland Lazenby, that his path to basketball stardom was anything but easy — and that along the way, he was actually a racist.
He recounted how he once threw a can of soda at a girl who called him the N-word in school and was suspended.
"I was really rebelling," he was quoted as saying in the book, which hit store shelves Tuesday. "I considered myself a racist at the time. Basically, I was against all white people."
His comments come amid a controversy that's brewed over Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his audio-taped remarks to his girlfriend about blacks — that he didn't want her posting pictures of herself with blacks on Instagram. Those remarks led to his lifetime ban from the NBA and a fine of $2.5 million.
Mr. Jordan's impressionable years, however, were spent battling Ku Klux Klan racists in the South, the author wrote, NBC News reported.
"I've been to North Carolina hundreds of times and enjoy it tremendously, but North Carolina was a state that had more Klan members than the rest of the Southern states combined," Mr. Lazenby said, NBC News reported.
"As I started looking at newspapers back in this era when I was putting together [Michael's great-grandfather] Dawson Jordan's life, the Klan was like a chamber of commerce. It bought the uniforms for ball teams, it put Bibles in all the schools. It may well have ended up being a chamber of commerce if not for all the violence it was perpetrating, too. A lot of the context just wasn't possible to put it in a basketball book. A lot of it ended up being cut," the author said, NBC News reported.
Mr. Jordan, meanwhile, issued a comment of his own about the Clippers flap, in support of the NBA's action.
"As a former player, I'm completely outraged," he said, NBC News reported. "There is no room in the NBA — or anywhere else — for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level."
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