Updates from Tuesday, April 29
CBS' Ken Berger reports that the league confirms the voice on the tape is Sterling, and that the league is banning him for life and fining him $2.5 million:
Two NBA lawyers left the law firm representing V. Stiviano Monday ... and sources familiar with the situation tell TMZ Sports ... the lawyers are now convinced -- the racist audio of Donald Sterling is REAL.
NBA lawyer David Anders and another NBA lawyer went to the law office of Mac Nehoray Monday afternoon. Stiviano was also there for the purpose of authenticating the audio. ...
TMZ Sports has also learned ... people who have heard the entire recording say there is "NO DOUBT" Donald Sterling KNEW he was being recorded.
ESPN's Darren Rovell reports Adidas is the latest company to announce its plans surrounding the Clippers:
Sacramento mayor and National Basketball Players Association search committee chairman Kevin Johnson released a statement on Facebook this morning, titled "Sports Should Bridge the Racial Divide, Not Widen It":
We’re at a defining moment in the history of the National Basketball Association. ...
I do not think about the racist comments of a wealthy white man who happens to own a sports franchise and who, until this week, the vast majority of Americans had never heard of.
But this much is true: how we choose to deal with Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will absolutely be a defining moment in the NBA. ...
I’m honored to have been asked by the NBA Players Association to lead the effort to attend to this issue from the players’ standpoint. Over the past few days I’ve talked to our Executive Committee, Player Representatives, members of the full body and past players. All of us are united in our belief that we must be actively engaged in bringing this issue to resolution quickly and definitively. This experience has brought together current and former players, united for a cause that will make our sport better for future players. Our collective voice has become stronger as a result of this crisis.
Johnson continued to detail potential ramifications he sees fit for Sterling in the wake of his alleged racist comments:
Mr. Sterling’s comments represent the worst of ignorance and intolerance. Despite that, we cannot sit idly by and watch him implode. While some would argue that we should watch with glee as this racist business owner destroys himself, for the sake of the NBA, we must intervene and engage to bring this to resolution swiftly.
Current and former players are in strong agreement that Mr. Sterling and his views have no place in our league. To that end, the NBPA has asked Commissioner Silver to impose the most severe sanctions possible under the NBA bylaws. We may not have the power to force Mr. Sterling to sell his team, but make no mistake, we believe that Mr. Sterling should no longer have the privilege of being an owner of an NBA team. After all, how can we expect any player (the majority of whom are African-American) to want to work for him?
At a minimum, Mr. Sterling should be suspended indefinitely, banned from games, slapped with the maximum fine possible, and forced to extract himself from basketball operations. He should be required to name someone from his executive team or family to take over all duties related to the Clippers.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban also weighed in on the situation surrounding Sterling and the possibility of him being removed from the NBA prior to the Mavericks' loss to the Spurs on Monday, courtesy of Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com:
I think there's a constitution for a reason, right? Because this is a very slippery slope. What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent. There's no place for racism in the NBA, any business I'm associated with, and I don't want to be associated with people who have that position.
But at the same time, that's a decision I make. I think you've got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It's a very, very slippery slope.
Again, there's no excuse for his positions. There's no excuse for what he said. There's no excuse for anybody to support racism. There's no place for it in our league, but there's a very, very, very slippery slope.
Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander also shared his thoughts, courtesy of Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
This kind of behavior can’t be allowed in the NBA by owners, players or anybody. This guy has no place in the family of the NBA. Whatever it takes, we have to make sure this kind of event never happens again. ...
I told Adam I don’t think he can be removed because the constitution (of the NBA) only allows him to be removed except for gambling. I’m not sure that legally can be done. But if he loses his players, nobody is going to want to go there. He’ll only be able to get a player that is worth $2 million and will play for $12 (million.) And who is going to want to coach there?
If you’re a player in the NBA you don’t want to play for somebody like that. If you worked for a company, you would walk away and say, ‘I’m gone.” I think the players should have that right.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been researching potential ramifications for Sterling:
Several league officials – including owners and Board of Governors members – told Yahoo Sports they believe Silver has been studying the nuclear option on Sterling: a provision in the NBA's bylaws that would allow Silver to summon a vote of league owners to strip Sterling of his ownership. The NBA would run the Clippers until the team could be sold.
The Associated Press (via ESPN) is reporting that the NAACP wants to meet with Silver:
The announcement was made Tuesday morning by Roslyn M. Brock, the chair of the NAACP National Board of Directors. She says the NAACP wants to talk to Silver about what it calls, quote, "the influence and impact of racism in the National Basketball Association."
This comes as the organization's Los Angeles chapter withdrew its decision to give Sterling a lifetime achievement award, and returned money he donated. Brock says the situation reminds us "racism and bigotry are still alive and well in all corners of society."
Updates from Monday, April 28
TMZ reports Donald Sterling has made contact with V. Stiviano in the wake of the alleged comments:
Donald Sterling contacted his ex-girlfriend Sunday and asked her flatly, "How can we make this go away?" ... sources connected with Sterling tell TMZ Sports.
Our sources say ... Sterling is keenly aware V. Stiviano is in possession of more than 100 hours of recordings ... some of which are extremely damaging to Sterling's reputation.
Our sources say Stiviano told Sterling to call her lawyer ... and thereby opened the door to settlement discussions. It's obvious the incentive for Sterling is to make sure the rest of the tapes never see the light of day.
TMZ Sports contacted Stiviano's lawyer Mac E. Nehoray ... who had no comment.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports Magic Johnson, who was thrust into the spotlight following Sterling's alleged remarks, is interested in purchasing the Clippers:
Magic Johnson and his billionaire backers, the Guggenheim Partners, want a chance to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources told Yahoo Sports. "Magic's absolutely interested," one source closely connected to Johnson's business interests told Yahoo Sports on Sunday night.
ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, however, has heard otherwise:
Magic himself later addressed the rumors on his Twitter account:
Steve Stoute, the CEO of Translation, a company that works closely with State Farm (who has produced numerous commercials featuring Clippers point guard Chris Paul), appeared on ESPN's Colin Cowherd's radio show to discuss Sterling's comments and the potential ramifications.
The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre provided a transcript of the appearance:
What I’m going to do … I’m telling the brands that I represent, ‘let’s pull sponsorship.’ State Farm is pulling out, and other brands are pulling out. We’re going to start seeing it over the next 48 hours.
State Farm later expanded on its relationship with the franchise, via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
Auto dealer CarMax has pulled its sponsorship of the Clippers, via Matt Moore of CBS Sports' Eye on Basketball:
CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers' owner completely unaccetable. These views directly conflict with CarMax's culture of respect for all individuals. While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for 9 years and support the team, fans, and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship.
Virgin America also disassociated itself with the Clippers, via Ryan Ruggiero of CNBC:
Kia later followed suit, via Ruggiero:
Red Bull did as well, though it will continue to support Blake Griffin, via Arash Markazi of ESPN:
Darren Rovell of ESPN had more on Red Bull's decision:
Sprint also decided to pull out of its partnership with the Clippers, via ESPN's SportsCenter:
Yokohama did the same, via Rovell:
Corona also disassociated itself with the Clippers, via Mike Hayes and Rachel Zarrell of Buzzfeed:
Like everyone else, Corona is appalled by the comments allegedly made by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. These comments run counter to the type of brand Corona aspires to be. Because of this, we are suspending our sponsorship agreement with the Clippers until the NBA completes its investigation.
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report has the latest on the NBA's investigation:
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers commented on whether or not he has spoken to Sterling since the tape was leaked, via Markazi:
Warriors head coach Mark Jackson had a message for Clippers fans, per the Associated Press via ESPN:
The Warriors coach said: "I believe if it was me, I wouldn't come to the game. I believe the fans, the loudest statement that they can make as fans is to not show up to the game."
Jackson said players have families to worry about and are getting paid to be there but fans "cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit."
Following Jackson's comments, the Staples Center released a statement regarding Game 5 (via Markazi):
Kobe Bryant shared his thoughts on the situation:
Updates from Sunday, April 27
After the Clippers were thumped by the Golden State Warriors 118-97 to even up the best-of-seven series at two games apiece, the Clippers made a bold decision, according to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Register:
TMZ provided a statement from Sterling's wife, Shelly, discussing the situation:
Shelly Sterling says "Our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband. My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices."
Shelly goes on ... "We will not let one man's small-mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love."
And Shelly says, "We are doing everything in our power to stand by and support our Clippers team."
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape making racist comments to girlfriend V. Stiviano, some of which were about NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
TMZ reports it obtained audio from a conversation between Sterling and Stiviano in which he confronts her about associating with black people in public. He was particularity outspoken about her posting Instagram photos with black friends.
You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that ... and not to bring them to my games.
He went on to single out Johnson, who played his entire career for the rival Los Angeles Lakers and has gone on to become part of the Los Angeles Dodgers' ownership group:
Don't put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games.
On Sunday, Deadspin's Kyle Wagner posted an additional audio clip, which contains more of Sterling's alleged comments:
V: I don't understand, I don't see your views. I wasn't raised the way you were raised.
DS: Well then, if you don't feel—don't come to my games. Don't bring black people, and don't come.
V: Do you know that you have a whole team that's black, that plays for you?
DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?
NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the controversy at a press conference.
Dan Woike of The Orange County Register reinforced the fact Sterling will not be present for the Clippers' next playoff game:
NBA on ESPN provided a statement from Clippers president Andy Roeser:
TMZ caught up with Johnson to get his reaction, and aside from calling it a "shame," he noted Sterling has a team with African American players currently trying to win him an NBA title:
It's a shame that Donald Sterling feels that way about African-Americans.
He has a team full of amazing African-American basketball players that are working to bring a championship to Clippers fans. The Clippers also have a strong minority fan base.
Johnson continued on Twitter Saturday:
Johnson later commented further on Sterling on Sunday during an appearance on ABC (via Ethan J. Skolnick of Bleacher Report):
President Barack Obama addressed the issue Sunday. CNN's Kevin Conlon and Shelby Lin Erdman provided a statement from Obama on Sterling's alleged comments during a conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak:
"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That's what happened here," the President said.
Obama also said Sterling's alleged comments are an example of how "the United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation."
"That's still there, the vestiges of discrimination. We've made enormous strides, but you're going to continue to see this percolate up every so often," Obama said in Malaysia.
Michael Jordan also commented on Sterling's comments (via Tim Bontemps of the New York Post):
I look at this from two perspectives – as a current owner and a former player. As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. I’m confident that Adam Silver will make a full investigation and take appropriate action quickly. As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA - or anywhere else - for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports provided Clippers coach Doc Rivers' take on the situation:
Rivers spoke more about Sterling on Sunday and his status with the organization (via Arash Markazi of ESPN):
The entire audio of the conversation between the Clippers owner and his girlfriend, who TMZ notes is black and Mexican, lasts over nine minutes. Reporters also reached out to Sterling and his representatives without receiving a response.
NBPA president and Clippers star Chris Paul voiced his concern as well:
On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively. We have asked Mayor Kevin Johnson to expand his responsibilities with the NBPA, to determine our response and our next steps. As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and the drive to the Finals.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson released a statement on the matter:
The reported comments made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling are reprehensible and unacceptable. The National Basketball Players Association must and will play a very active role in determining how this issue is addressed. There needs to be an immediate investigation and if the reports are true, there needs to be strong and swift action taken. I have spoken with NBPA President Chris Paul and will be leading the NBPA in addressing the implications of this serious matter. I will be formally reaching out to the NBA today to determine our next steps. While I originally came on to lead the Executive Director search, this issue requires immediate attention from the players association. I will be keeping Chris Paul, the Executive Committee, and all player representatives informed of every step.
The NBA released a statement, per spokesman Michael Bass, on the alleged comments, courtesy of Sam Amick of USA Today:
Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News reports that the players held a meeting regarding the alleged comments:
Spears had more on a possible demonstration by Clippers players:
However, when the Clippers took the floor for Game 4, they did offer a gesture, via Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area:
Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick provides quotes from LeBron James, who spoke out about Sterling:
Skolnick also reports Chris Bosh and James Jones' thoughts on the issue:
Kobe Bryant made it clear he couldn't play for Sterling:
Ramona Shelburne passed along a statement from the NAACP:
The NAACP later decided not to present the award to Sterling. Via Darren Rovell of ESPN, interim president Lorraine Miller announced the decision on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday morning. "If you're silent about this, then you are accepting this," Miller said. "And people have got to say that this is not good and do something about it."
Sterling has had a history of race-related troubles. In 2009, he settled a housing discrimination lawsuit for $2.725 million in which he allegedly discriminated against minorities and families with children in buildings he owned. He was also sued by former Clippers GM Elgin Baylor, who filed a wrongful termination suit (which a jury ultimately rejected), claiming he was fired "on the basis of age and race," per J.A. Adande of ESPN.
Magic Johnson is exactly on point when he calls it a shame. While it would be unacceptable for anybody to make such racist comments, hearing it from a person in a position of such power, who has several African-Americans working for him, is unfortunate.
By now, Sterling should understand that even perceived private conversations often go public. Whether this situation will cause any problems with his players or other members of the NBA circle is unclear, but the main reaction, as Johnson illustrated, is likely disappointment.
It will be interesting to see whether Sterling releases any type of statement about the audio that was released and the comments he's made. Aside from that, the remarks are just racist and ugly.