Donald Sterling's wife: 'I am not a racist'
Rochelle Sterling, the wife of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, has denied that she is a racist while refusing to confirm or deny whether her husband made racist remarks heard on an audio tape that was released Friday.
Although NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that Donald Sterling had agreed not to attend the game after the controversial audio tape became public, Rochelle Sterling sat courtside at the Oracle Arena for Game 4 between the Clippers and Warriors on Sunday.
Rochelle Sterling declined to participate in an on-camera interview, but ESPN obtained a statement from her that was read on the nationally-televised broadcast of the game.
"I do not condone those statements that you heard," Sterling's statement read. "I do not believe in them. I am not a racist. I never have been, I never will be. The team is the most important thing to my family."
Asked if the voice on the tape was her husband's, Rochelle Sterling dodged the question and took issue with the legitimacy of the recording.
"I don't know [if it was Donald Sterling's voice]," Rochelle Sterling said, according to ESPN. "I haven't listened to the entire thing. I do believe there were some parts that were cut out. I will let the experts handle that. The one thing I want everyone to know: I am not a racist and I do not condone what I heard on that tape."
TMZ.com released a tape of a conversation in which Sterling can allegedly be heard scolding V. Stiviano, his girlfriend, for bringing African-Americans to Clippers games and for posting photos of herself and African-Americans, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson, to her Instagram account.
Rochelle Sterling's comments are similar to those made in a statement released by Clippers president Andy Roeser on Saturday.
“We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered," Roeser's statement read. "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.”
Silver has pledged to investigate the audio and action is expected within the next few days. United States President Barack Obama, Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, TNT commentators Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Heat forward LeBron James and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, among others, have all spoken out against Sterling.
The Clippers held a silent protest against Sterling before and during Game 4 by taking off their warm-up jerseys, turning their warm-up shirts inside out, wearing uniforms that read "Los Angeles" instead of "Clippers" across the chest, and wearing black socks.