Los Angeles landlord and Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been called an embarrassment plenty of times before, but nothing like this. TMZ posted an audio clip Friday night of a voice that sounds like Sterling's saying racist things and, among other things, telling his girlfriend not to associate with Magic Johnson because he's black. The reaction, here and nationally, has been piling up with unusual swiftness. Johnson and Mayor Eric Garcetti used pretty strong words, President Obama made a statement, the Clippers themselves talked about whether to boycott today's playoff game (they didn't, but they lost), and of course the columnists who routinely call for people's heads have called for Sterling's head. A small bit of relevant background: After Lakers great Elgin Baylor was let go as GM of the Clippers, he alleged a pattern of racial discrimination by Sterling but a jury did not side with Baylor. The feds also have gone after Sterling at least twice before for alleged bias against minority renters in Sterling's apartment buildings.
Some highlights from this weekend's outrage.
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?..."
"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..."
"I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people."
The TMZ audio. Deadspin on Sunday posted an extended 15-minute version the site said "should remove all doubt that he's a doddering racist with views not too far removed from the plantation." Deadspin also compiled a past litany of racist quotes by Sterling.
We have heard the tape on TMZ. 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 TMZ -- 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. 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.
"With respect to the statements by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers -- for our Malaysian audience, this is a sports team, basketball team in the United States. The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive racist statements that were published. I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves. When people -- when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. And that’s what happened here.
"I am confident that the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, a good man, will address this. Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country. It’s got an awful lot of African-American players. It’s steeped in African-American culture. And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.
"I will make just one larger comment about this. The United States continues to wrestle with a 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. And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there had been -- there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.
Clippers players are considering some kind of bigger protest statement in game 5 at Staples Center on Tuesday, Yahoo Sports reported.
"These 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."
Rochelle Sterling sued Stiviano in Los Angeles County Superior Court last month, demanding that she relinquish $500,000 worth of luxury cars, a $1.8-million duplex, and other gifts Donald Sterling supposedly gave her without Rochelle's knowledge or consent. The legal issue in the case, as Rochelle Sterling contends, is whether her husband had the right to provide Stiviano with any of the couple's "community property" -- i.e., their money -- without her permission. Sterling was recently estimated by Forbes to be worth $1.9 billion, so whatever he gave Stiviano, there's plenty left over.
Stiviano returned fire in a court document dated April 21. Since her relationship with Sterling, which reportedly began at the 2010 Super Bowl, has now become a public issue, it's proper to examine how she describes Sterling and that relationship in the document filed by her attorney, Mac Nehoray of Calabasas. The National Basketball Assn. is examining whether Sterling's alleged remarks warrant league discipline, and the Sterling-Stiviano case could conceivably result in Sterling giving up ownership of the Clippers....
In general, Stiviano maintains that Sterling made the gifts of his own free will, that she didn't have a business or fiduciary relationship with him that controlled their financial relationship, that she engaged in nothing like "fraud" or "other wrongful acts," and therefore that Rochelle Sterling has no grounds to demand return of the of the assets.