Mark Cuban: 'A racist I am not'

I totally support Mark Cuban: O'Leary
I totally support Mark Cuban: O'Leary

Mark Cuban strongly rejected suggestions he's a racist, and accused critics of taking his controversial comments on race out of context. He did, however, apologize for one of the examples he used when admitting he has prejudices.

In an on-stage interview for the GrowCo conference in Nashville, the Dallas Mavericks owner said: "If I see a black kid in a hoodie at night ... on the same side of the street, I'm probably going to walk to the other side of the street." He added that he would also cross the street to avoid "a white guy with a shaved head and lots of tattoos."

But, he continued, "Other than safety issues, I try to always catch my prejudices and recognize and be very self-aware that my stream of thought is never perfect and I've got to be careful. To me, that's part of growing up and what I try to instill in my kids."

Sardonically noting that "someone is going to take this as a media thing," Cuban added what he called a qualification. "I think we're all bigots. I don't think there's any question about that."

But as his father taught him, he added, "of everything and anything you possibly can do, treating anyone differently for race, religion, or any other reason, is wrong. But that doesn't mean you're not going to have those thoughts from time to time. ... You've got to realize when you have those thoughts, they're wrong."

He made similar comments in a separate videotape made for the conference.

Responding to what he considered an unfair report on his comments, Cuban tweeted, "I have my failings and I mentioned those in the interview. But a racist I am not."

Cuban tweet: "A racist I am not."

He later added, "In hindsight, I should have used different examples. I didn't consider the Trayvon Martin family, and I apologize to them for that." Otherwise, he wrote, "I stand by the words and substance of the interview" and he urged people to watch the full interview.

Cuban apology to Martin family

In a racially charged case that was extensively covered by the media, Martin, a 17-year-old African-American wearing a hoodie, was fatally shot in 2012 by George Zimmerman inside a gated Florida community. Zimmerman claimed self defense and was acquitted of murder charges.

Speaking about an upcoming vote by NBA owners to force Donald Sterling to give up his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers after he made racist comments, Cuban said: "I don't want to be a hypocrite and I think I might have to be. ... It won't be fun." He did not reveal how he plans to vote.

Cuban declined a CNBC invitation to comment on the matter.

—By's Alex Crippen

Disclosure: Mark Cuban is a host of "Shark Tank," which is broadcast on CNBC.