Rap­tors president Ujiri among NBA fig­ures to de­cry Trump slur

The Freeman - - SPORTS -

LOS AN­GE­LES — The Toronto Rap­tors' Nige­rian president Ma­sai Ujiri was just one NBA fig­ure with a strong re­sponse on Fri­day to US President Don­ald Trump's re­ported de­nun­ci­a­tion of im­mi­gra­tion from 'shit­hole coun­tries."

While Trump took to Twit­ter to deny us­ing the spe­cific term, Demo­cratic Se­na­tor Dick Durbin in­sisted that the president had used such "vile, racist" lan­guage in a meet­ing with law­mak­ers on im­mi­gra­tion re­form.

Ujiri, who em­i­grated from Nige­ria to play col­lege bas­ket­ball and was named NBA Ex­ec­u­tive of the Year in 2013, told ESPN that Trump's re­ported com­ment was un­fair.

"This sum­mer, I went to Ki­gali, and Nairobi and La­gos, and I went to Kam­pala and Abidjan and Dakar and Jo­han­nes­burg and I saw great cities, and great peo­ple," Ujiri told ESPN.

"And I went to visit the refugee camp in Dadaab, and I met good peo­ple and good fam­i­lies with plenty of hope. If those places are be­ing re­ferred to as shit­holes, go visit those places, and go meet those peo­ple."

"I don't think it's fair, and I don't think it's what in­spir­ing lead­er­ship can be. What sense of hope are we giv­ing peo­ple if you are call­ing where they live – and where they're from – a shit­hole?

"I've spent a lot of time in the United States and Canada and I am grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties that I've been given by peo­ple, and the game of bas­ket­ball, and the NBA," he added. "As lead­ers, I think we have to give peo­ple in many places a chance to have suc­cess, not con­tinue to put those peo­ple down.

"We have to in­spire peo­ple and give them a sense of hope. We need to bring peo­ple along, not ridicule and tear them down. This can­not be the mes­sage that we ac­cept from the leader of the free world."

Golden State War­riors for­ward David West used Twit­ter to re­spond to Trump's re­marks, which have been branded racist.

"How they be­came 'Shit Holes'" he said in a tweet that in­cluded an ex­cerpt from Span­ish his­to­rian Bar­tolome de las Casas' "A Short Ac­count of the De­struc­tion of the Indies" – a 16th Cen­tury ac­count of the rav­ages of col­o­niza­tion.

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