Sterling's Comments "A Black Eye For the NBA": Magic Johnson

The owner of the L.A. Clippers is under fire for alleged racist remarks caught on tape.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Explosive allegations against the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers on the eve of the Warriors’ playoff game. It's all about a controversial recording of racist remarks that may involve Donald Sterling. NBC Bay Area's Kimberly Tere reports from outside Oracle Arena where the teams will meet Sunday afternoon. (Published Saturday, Apr 26, 2014)

    The head coaches of the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers issued statements at a press conference Sunday in response to a report in TMZ that alleges Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racist remarks.

    The statements came prior to the teams facing off at Oracle Arena at 12:30 p.m. Sterling will not be attending Sunday's game. Clippers players could be seen taking off their warmups and leaving them at half court to protest his remarks. Warriors fans held up signs that read "No room for racism," and "I brought a black guy to the game."

    Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who played in the NBA for 12 years, held a press conference Sunday to address the racism allegations against Sterling on behalf of the NBA players association.

    "The comments are unacceptable - if what has been alleged was actually stated, there should be sanctions ... The NBA family will have zero tolerance for such conduct - today, tomorrow and forever," he said.

    Johnson said that the players did not want Sterling present during the rest of the playoffs until the issue was resolved.

    "The players are outraged, due process has to take place," he said. "This is a defining moment for all the players in the League." he said.

    Warriors coach Mark Jackson said at a press conference Sunday that his team would not boycott the Clippers.

    "Please don't think it's just the Clippers that's been affected by these comments, its affected us all," Jackson said. "We've come too far, and a lot of folks have sacrificed their life to make this a better place ... It's just sad that people feel this way today."

    "Our biggest issue is getting back together as a team and playing basketball," he said.

    When asked about the mental state of his players, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he was "not sure."

    "They've been pulled in a million directions in the last 24 hours," Rivers said. "I feel like we let them down, my job is to get them up and get them ready."

    The report has sparked a firestorm, with NBA players and others, including President Barack Obama and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, issuing statements. Basketball fans are calling on the NBA to take action against Sterling.

    On Sunday, the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced that Sterling will not be receiving a lifetime achievement award from its Los Angeles branch

    Lorraine Miller, the interim president of the NAACP, said during NBC's Meet the Press that Sterling would not be receiving the honor.

    Andy Roeser, president of the L.A. Clippers, said in a statement that the Clippers have launched their own investigation into the report.

    The NBA is also investigating the report. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a news conference Saturday that Sterling had agreed not to attend the Clippers playoff game against the Golden State Warriors Sunday. Silver said that he hopes the investigation will be completed in the next few days.

    On Saturday, the Clippers tweeted that "despite controversy, Clippers remain focused on Game 4."

    "We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered," Roeser said in the statement from the Clippers. "We do know that the woman on the tape -- who we believe released it to TMZ -- is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would 'get even.'"

    The audio recording posted on the TMZ web site is of a male voice criticizing a woman for posting online about bringing African-American friends to the games. The man is also heard chastising the woman for posting a photo on Instagram with Magic Johnson.

    "Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” a man is heard saying in the recording.

    "You can do anything, but don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see,” the man says. "And don’t bring him to my games."

    Roeser's statement added:

    "Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them."

    NBA spokesman Mike Bass also released a statement in which he called the comments “disturbing and offensive” and said the league would have no further comment.

    The TMZ report has triggered an investigation by the NBA and an uproar from the black community.

    NBC News is not independently able to verify the audio, but in the Bay Area, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said Saturday if the allegations are true, it is unacceptable and disappointing.

    "All I can do is say that I'm disappointed, and it's unfortunate the statements that were made," Jackson said. "My feelings would be the same, no matter coaching, playing, fan. There's no place for it."

    Many took to Twitter with the #DonaldSterling and #BoycottClippers, which started trending nationally.

    "LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA." tweeted Magic Johnson.

    Warriors' player Andre Iguodala said he was not surprised by the comments,

    "He hopefully has a change of heart ... because life is too short for any of us to feel a certain way about a human being because of their race."

    President Barack Obama made a statement about the comments during a news conference in Malaysia.

    "The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive, racist statements that were published,” Obama said. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything. You just let them talk, and that’s what happened here."

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also released a statement:

    "These statements are offensive and despicable and have no place in Los Angeles," Garcetti said. "I urge the NBA to act swiftly. L.A. fans deserve and demand better."

    Pictures of Clippers players wearing their gear inside out during pre-game courtesy Comcast Sports.