In a Twitter exchange Sunday, Cousins asked Napear, 60, what he thought of the Black Lives Matter movement, and after sending his greetings, Napear responded, “ALL LIVES MATTER. … EVERY SINGLE ONE!!!” That phrase is an inflammatory one, often seen as being dismissive of concerns about the issues that black Americans face.
Napear was quickly criticized by Matt Barnes and Chris Webber, also former Kings players. In a tweet that included clown emoji, Webber tweeted: “Demarcus we know and have known who Grant is. The team knows as well. I’ve told them many times. They’ve seen it. They know who he is.” Barnes accused Napear of being “a closet racist.”
Napear apologized Sunday night. “If it came across as dumb I apologize,” he wrote on Twitter. “That was not my intent. That’s how I was raised. It has been engrained [sic] in me since I can remember. I’ve been doing more listening than talking the past few days. I believe the past few days [of protests] will change this country for the better!”
“Black Lives Matter” has resonated in Sacramento after the killings of Stephon Clark, Mikel McIntyre and Joseph Mann. In an interview with the Sacramento Bee’s Marcos Breton on Monday, Napear said he is “not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said ‘All Lives Matter’ that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across.”
He went on to admit: “I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old, and I still have a lot learn.”
In responding to the protests and death of Floyd, Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé issued a statement that said in part: “For all the hope and promise that our country stands for, the freedom to live without fear from the vitriol and hatred of racism is not a reality for millions of Black Americans. Unfortunately, this is not new. For hundreds of years, innumerable men, women and children have been treated as less than, asked to work twice as hard and taken too early as a result of bias, bigotry and unequal treatment.”
In parting with Napear, Bonneville said “it is crucial that we communicate the tremendous respect that we have for the black community and any other groups or individuals who have cause to feel marginalized.”
Napear drew criticism in 2014 when he appeared to defend Donald Sterling, who was banned for life from the NBA and forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after audio of racist comments he made became public.
“I don’t want to bring out a can of worms with Donald Sterling, but this always stuck out to me when this whole thing was going on,” Napear said at that time. “This is a man in his 80s that had an African American general manager, Elgin Baylor, and an African American coach in Doc Rivers. Think about that for a minute.
“To bring a blanket statement that this particular individual is racist because of this racial epithet that they used and yet this is the same guy who has an African American general manger and an African American coach running their team. It doesn’t balance out to me is what I’m saying.”