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.
"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."
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
I feel sorry for my friends Coach Doc Rivers and Chris Paul that they have to work for a man that feels that way about African Americans. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
TMZ reported this morning that Clippers owner Donald Sterling doesn't want me or other African-Americans to come to Clippers games. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
That's the way it is...He is honest about what he believes in..Been going on for a long time, Hats off 2 the Team.. 4 playin above it all. — Baron Davis (@Baron_Davis) April 26, 2014
I just saw/heard the Sterling clip on TMZ 5 min ago. If it's real, all I'll say is this: My God I can't wait to get back to work on Monday. — Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) April 26, 2014