Gedvydas Vainauskas, the president of Lithuanian professional basketball team BC Lietuvos Rytas, had this to say about black players on his basketball team.
“We’ve always held a stance that there shouldn’t be more than two black players on the team. What happened was that coach Tomas Pacesas likes to play with black players—to control them, to teach them, to tutor them—and we ended up with four players that are black. All of a sudden, they came together to form...how should I put it...a sort of a gang. It cannot be that way; no more than two black players—I can say that from my 23 years of experience in the business. Teams, don’t ever have more than two black players ... (smiles) Because that’s when bad things start to take place.”
His comments were first reported by FIBA.com writer Simonas Baranauskas, who compared them to racist remarks made by former Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Baranauskas also said a news site tried to cover up the racist remark.
(You can see the unedited version here, but, naturally, it’s in Lithuanian.)
Vainauskas eventually issued a statement published on the team’s website:
While talking about the lessons learned during the last season, I had in my mind the situation with foreign players.
The principal position of BC Lietuvos Rytas is that a basketball player first of all is a professional.
Unfortunately, a few our foreigners did not meet expectations of the club.
During the play-offs they acted irresponsibly and that had a great negative impact on our team’s performance. In my interview, I expressed my disappointment about some of the foreign players selected for the season.
I apologize, if I was improperly understood.
The European basketball league issued a statement of its own today decrying Vainauskas’ remarks and announcing a “disciplinary proceeding.” The statement read, in part:
European basketball has always been and will continue being an example of integration on and off the court, where cultures, races and religions have always come together under one passion, the sport of basketball. It is precisely these many cultures, languages, races and ways of understanding and living the sport which makes it a unique and enriching experience as well as a tool for bringing people together, people who have made history with some of the greatest performances in European basketball. The views expressed by Mr. Vainauskas are deeply offensive, harmful, and contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect.
A disciplinary proceeding has been opened by Euroleague Basketball against the Club, while it will be proposed at the upcoming 7DAYS EuroCup General Assembly that Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius ceases to represent EuroCup clubs at the Board of the competition.