Clippers issue statement saying audio does not reflect views of Donald Sterling and that the woman heard in the recording is being sued by the team owner for embezzlement.
Magic Johnson has responded to inflammatory and racist remarks from Clippers owner Donald Sterling that were caught on tape.
In a series of tweets, the NBA Hall of Famer deemed the audio of Sterling’s remarks to be a “black eye” for the league and said that he and his wife, Cookie Johnson, wouldn’t be attending a Clippers game while the mogul owned the team. He also expressed sympathy for Clippers coach Doc Rivers and star point guard Chris Paul, who are currently leading the team against the Golden State Warriors in a playoff series.
On Friday evening, audio of a conversation between Sterling and girlfriend V. Stiviano was posted on hollywoodinsight.com . What appears to be Sterling’s voice can be heard chastising Stiviano for attending Clippers games with “minorities.”
“Why publicize it on the Instagram and bring it to my games?” Sterling asked. “It bothers me a lot if you want to broadcast that you are associating with black people.”
hollywoodinsight.com also quotes Sterling saying to Stiviano of Magic Johnson: “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.”
The NBA has since announced that it is looking into the remarks.
“We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by hollywoodinsight.com ,” the league said in a statement from spokesperson Mike Bass. “The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information.”
Commissioner Adam Silver said in a press conference Saturday Sterling had agreed not to attend his team’s Sunday playoff game in Oakland. Silver said he would not discuss possible sanctions against Sterling until the NBA’s investigation was complete.
The remarks by Johnson, a former part-owner of the Lakers who currently has a small ownership stake in the Dodgers, could spark a wave of new protests against Sterling.
The Clippers owner has been one of the most polarizing owners in the league and counts several discrimination lawsuits that have been filed against him over the years. Under former Boston Celtics coach Rivers, the Clippers have had one of their most successful seasons in their history and are currently in the midst of a playoff run.
The Clippers organization released a statement on behalf of Sterling stating that the audio recording does not reflect his “views.” It also alleges that the woman heard in the recording is currently being sued by Sterling for embezzlement..
“We have heard the tape on hollywoodinsight.com . We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered. We do know that the woman on the tape — who we believe released it to hollywoodinsight.com — is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even.’ Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings,” the statement reads. “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. He is also upset and apologizes for sentiments attributed to him about Earvin Johnson. He has long considered Magic a friend and has only the utmost respect and admiration for him — both in terms of who he is and what he has achieved. We are investigating this matter.”
MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton issued a statement promising a protest at the NBA headquarters if there was not a proper response from the league.
“No one should be allowed to own a team if they have in fact engaged in this kind of racial language,” Sharpton said. “We are prepared at National Action Network to rally in front of the NBA headquarters if this matter is not immediately dealt with.”
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti also weighed in on the mogul’s remarks, saying that the “statements are offensive and despicable and have no place in Los Angeles. I urge the NBA to act swiftly. L.A. fans deserve and demand better.”
President Barack Obama weighed in during a press conference Malaysia, calling the comments “incredibly offensive” and “racist.”
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance,” the president said, “we have to be clear and steady in denouncing it.”
Former Clippers star point guard Baron Davis — who was the face of the franchise during the 2008-2009 season — wrote: “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.”
Meanwhile, Sterling’s comments drew condemnation from entertainment industry basketball fans. Anchorman director Adam McKay tweeted a pledge to give up his season tickets because he “can’t give a dime to Sterling.” Entourage creator Doug Ellin deemed the owner a “sick guy.” Rapper Snoop Dogg posted an Instagram video calling the mogul a “racist piece of shit.”