Controversy Involving Clippers Owner Takes Spotlight in Game 4 of Playoffs Against Warriors

As the Los Angeles Clippers headed into Game 4 of the first-round of the NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors, a growing controversy surrounded the team’s owner, and it took the spotlight.

Both coaches went into this game calling the controversy a major distraction, hoping the players' focus would be on the game. In the end, the Warriors came out on top 118-97.

"You make a statement by who you are, by players on the floor, by Steph Curry and Chris Paul getting after it and still communicating and still calling and texting, by handling yourself with dignity and class," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "That’s how you respond."

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he and his players have been pulled in a million different directions over the last 24 hours since a controversial audio recording was posted on TMZ.

"This is basketball, this is life, and our guys, they have family. They have friends, and they have cell phones," Rivers said. "And I can’t imagine how much they have been pulled on and talked to about what you should do and what you shouldn’t do and what you should say."

On the recording, a male voice is heard 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.

According to TMZ’s report, the recording is of a conversation between Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling and a girlfriend. NBC News has not yet verified this.

Team owner Donald Sterling was not at the game and has not commented. But team president Andy Roeser is talking, and he's questioning the authenticity of the recording.

He released a statement yesterday:

“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.”

While there was talk about boycotting the game, Clippers coach Rivers said his players have worked hard to get in the playoffs and will not walk away.

"Our message is to play. Our message is that we’re gonna let no one or nothing stop us from what we want to do, and I think that’s a good message. I really do," Rivers said. "I think that’s the message we are trying to send and if we can pull this off all the way, I think that would be a terrific message."

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