The fallout of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s alleged racist remarks has brought numerous NBA personalities to the forefront. Former two-time All-Star Baron Davis—who played for the Clippers from 2008-09 through 2010-11—let his voice be heard even before TMZ released the audio in question.
In an excerpt from an interview with the Grantland podcast The Moment with Brian Koppelman conducted on April 22, the retired point guard recalled Sterling heckling him during games. According to Davis, Sterling called him a “bastard,” “the devil” and “crazy.”
“If we were in layup lines and he wasn’t around, I’d be in a great mood,” Davis said. “As soon as he walked into the arena, I’d get like the worst anxiety and I never had anxiety playing. ... I couldn’t do it.”
He also added, “I can’t find a way function. Like, not with this man sitting here. Knowing that he hates me.”
Davis experienced a notable on-court decline during his first year with the Clippers after a dominant campaign with the Golden State Warriors the season prior.
|2007-08 (Golden State Warriors)||42.6%||33.0%||21.8||7.6||4.7|
|2008-09 (Los Angeles Clippers)||37.0%||30.2%||14.9||7.7||3.7|
It’s logical to believe that the “anxiety” he suffered from Sterling’s actions was a contributing factor to the dip in overall production.
The candid words from Davis are particularly damning to Sterling’s already shoddy and notorious reputation. Those are reprehensible actions for an owner to engage in with his players—or anyone, for that matter. The fact that Davis' interview took place before Sterling was thrust into the national spotlight makes it even clearer that this is not a new issue.
Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears reported the heckling story in 2010, citing sources that said Sterling's "verbal barbs" included: "Why are you in the game?" "Why did you take that shot?" "You're out of shape!"
Sterling's latest alleged comments have already drawn ire from Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, Miami Heat owner Mickey Arison and Charlotte Bobcats owner and league legend Michael Jordan—who said he was "disgusted" and "outraged," via Matt Moore of CBS Sports.
Heat superstar LeBron James said, “There’s no room for Donald Sterling in the NBA -- there is no room for him,” per the Associated Press (via ESPN).
Clippers players held a silent protest before their Game 4 loss against the Golden State Warriors by piling up their warm-up jackets in unison at center court, revealing red shirts underneath that had been turned inside out to conceal the team’s logo, per the AP (via NBA.com). They also wore black socks, wristbands and armbands.
The fiasco has weighed heavily on head coach Doc Rivers, who said of a possible return to the team under Sterling’s ownership next season, “Don’t know yet. And I’m just (going) to leave it at that,” per ESPN’s Marc Stein.
New league commissioner Adam Silver is looking to resolve the issues swiftly. “All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process,” he said, per USA Today’s Scott Gleeson. “We will move extraordinarily quickly. We plan to have this wrapped up in the next few days.”
Through all the chaos and media attention, the Clippers will head back to Staples Center for Game 5 against Golden State April 29. The series is tied at two games apiece, but it will be an arduous task for Rivers’ team to maintain any focus on basketball.