Racial comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling have surfaced and have left many members of the NBA organization shocked. TMZ obtained an audio clip that is believed to be the Clippers owner stating derogatory and racist remarks to his girlfriend during an argument about her association with Hispanics and blacks. The clip continues with what is believe to be Sterling objecting to the public association of minorities she displays and does not want her to bring any minorities to Clipper games. Magic Johnson was brought up during the conversation as the purported voice of the Clippers owner stated his desire for his girlfriend to admire the legendary Laker from afar and not in public. According to ABC News, the woman in the tape is currently involved in a lawsuit with Sterling’s wife for extortion. The racially driven comments have been played on many sports and news networks and reactions from all around not just the league, but the general public as well, have been very vocal. While many currently see the owner in a negative light, the Clippers owner was set to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP in May.
No one from around the league has been shy about voicing their opinions about Sterling and the comments made in the recording. National Basketball Players Association president and current guard for the Clippers Chris Paul released a statement to the press in which he expresses that the NBPA will aggressively address the issue. Paul continues by stating that the NBPA will ask for the assistance of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is currently heading the search for a new director for the group, to help determine the appropriate response and plans on how to move forward. Chris Paul did not comment directly on Sterling’s racial remarks, but did state the importance of keeping focus on the playoffs and the teams current championship run.
Coach of the Clippers Doc Rivers, an advocate and leader in the African-american community, is disturbed by the comments. Rivers spoke to reporters during practice and although lightly spoke on how upset the team was about the comments made by their owner, the Clippers coach would not allow it to become a distraction for the team. The Clippers team are in an awkward position with all the attention on Sterling, but instead of protesting or walking away, the team has elected to stay together and play through the media storm. Rivers will have a lot on his plate in leading the way for angry and conflicted men, but the legendary player and coach is more than qualified for the task.
Adam Silver has many potential rule changes on the table, but this would be the first major decision of the young commissioners’ career. While many are asking for the immediate suspension of Sterling, many former NBA players such as Chris Webber and Magic Johnson believe the team should be taken away from the owner. Silver and the NBA committee will look into the matter and make an appropriate decision. While there is no word from the NAACP if Sterling would still receive the lifetime achievement award, the embarrassment will remain as a blemish for a lifetime and more.
Commentary by Hector Carrion