Thursday, June 21, 2018
Sports

Clippers play on, silently protest Sterling amid furor

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling before they faced the Warriors in Sunday's Game 4 of their playoff series. Instead, they made a silent protest to generate attention.

In response to Sterling's purported comments urging a woman not to bring black people to his team's games, the Clippers let their uniforms become a show of solidarity.

They ran out of the tunnel wearing their usual warmups. Then they huddled at center court and tossed the outer layer to the ground, going through their pregame routine with their red Clippers' shirts on inside out to hide the team's logo.

Players also wore black wristbands or armbands during the game, which they lost 118-97. They also donned black socks.

"It's just us, only us. We're all we got," Clippers point guard Chris Paul could be heard shouting to teammates before they ran out.

The Warriors' announced sellout of 19,596 booed the Clips — as always — during introductions.

Sterling's wife, Rochelle, sat courtside across from the team's bench. She told ESPN: "I don't condone those statements, and I don't believe in them. I'm not a racist. Never have been, never will be. The team is the most important thing to my family."

Commissioner Adam Silver had said Donald Sterling would not be at the game.

A recording, purportedly of Sterling and released by TMZ, is the latest in a series of allegations of racial and gender discrimination against Sterling, a real estate mogul and the longest-tenured team owner in a league whose player pool is more than three-quarters African-American.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game he would be the only one to speak for the team on the issue because players wanted to focus on basketball.

But Rivers said all options were discussed before the game, even a player boycott. "Our message is to play," Rivers said. "Our message is that we're going to let no one and nothing stop us from what we want to do."

Condemnation of Sterling came from far and wide, from inside the NBA and out.

"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk," President Barack Obama said. "That's what happened here."

"As an owner, I'm obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views," Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said.

Sterling was to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP next month, but the organization said it has rescinded the award.

Lakers star Kobe Bryant wrote on his Twitter page that he couldn't play for Sterling. Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who played for the Clippers from 1992-94, said he could forgive Sterling but couldn't play for him right now, either.

The audio purportedly catches Sterling arguing with a female friend, identified as V. Stiviano, criticizing her for posting pictures of herself online with black men, including former Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people," a voice, said to belong to Sterling, is heard to say on the recording.

Rochelle Sterling last month filed a lawsuit against Stiviano, saying she owed the Sterlings money because her husband showered Stiviano with millions of dollars' worth of gifts.

Johnson said he would never attend another Clippers game as long as Sterling owned the club and called for the league to "come down hard," even saying Sterling should be ousted from the league.

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