NBA Players' Union Lawyer Apologizes for “Plantation Workers” Comment

After more tense lockout negotiations, a leading attorney expresses a view that has surfaced before, then retracts it, saying he didn’t want to become a “distraction” as the two sides seek resolution.

Posted: 11/09/2011 03:37 PM EST

(Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Less than three weeks after HBO Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel likened NBA Commissioner David Stern to a “plantation overseer,” Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney for the National Basketball Player’s Association, offered up a nearly identical criticism on Monday, telling the Washington Post that league owners are treating players like "plantation workers" during the ongoing lockout.


Kessler thought better of his remark on Wednesday, and issued a statement of apology:


"The comments that I made to the Washington Post reporter were made late Monday night after a long day," he said. "Looking back at this now, my choice of words were inappropriate. I did not mean to offend. I was passionately advocating for the players. I am going to call Commissioner Stern this morning and apologize for my choice of words. It is very important that the parties not have any distraction and that we all work very hard to try to reach an agreement to save the NBA season."


Lest matters boil over, Magic Johnson and others, including fellow Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell, have stepped forward to defend Stern.


"He always is looking out for the players and what's best for the league, and I disagree with anybody who says he's trying to be a plantation owner,” Johnson told the Assocaited Press. "It's ridiculous we're even talking about it."


Johnson contended that the NBA is more diverse than any other league, with more minorities in powerful positions. "That's all about David Stern and his vision and what he wanted to do.”


"He's a tough business man and a smart business man," Johnson said. "That's what he's supposed to be."

From Our Partners