January 14, 2003
Commissioner David Stern
National Basketball Association
645 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10022
Dear Commissioner Stern:
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national voice for the Asian Pacific American legal profession. Our mission is to promote justice and foster advocacy on behalf of the Asian Pacific American community. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges and law students.
This letter is in response to the remarks made by Shaquille O'Neal regarding Yao Ming. NAPABA is seriously concerned by the lack of action taken by the National Basketball Association (NBA) under your leadership in response to these remarks. Although Shaq has publicly apologized, the perceptions and result of his statements have created a firestorm in the Asian Pacific American community. In light of the perceived racial slur against Asian Pacific Americans, you have a great opportunity to create an atmosphere in the NBA that is free of negative and racially offensive remarks and behavior. Leadership starts from the top, and it is NAPABA's hope that you will use your bully pulpit to instill in your players and staff the importance of perception of words and behavior that promote negative stereotypes. Sports have in the past been at the forefront of breaking down racial barriers.
As basketball's commissioner, we ask that you provide the leadership in breaking down another racial barrier, that of negative and racially offensive remarks. Let your players know that inappropriate racially discriminatory behavior will no longer be tolerated under your watch.
We welcome the opportunity to speak with you about proactive measures to be taken by the NBA. Feel free to contact me at (916) 739-7099 or Grace Yoo, NAPABA's Executive Director at (213) 955-8022 to discuss further.
/s/Ruthe C. Ashley
Ruthe C. Ashley