The Los Angeles Clippers held a silent protest against owner Donald Sterling prior to Game 4 of a first-round playoff series against the Warriors on Sunday amid a controversy that has enveloped Sterling regarding racist comments he allegedly made in an audio recording.
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the entire Clippers team took off their jackets and placed them at mid-court during warm-ups, revealing long-sleeved t-shirts that had been turned inside out so that the team's logo and name were not visible. The team also wore blue jerseys with the words "Los Angeles" across the chest rather than a jersey design that bore the word "Clippers," and donned black socks.
The Clippers warm up with inside-out shirts. (Noah Graham/Getty Images)
Sterling was allegedly caught on tape 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.
The Los Angeles Daily News reported that the Clippers players held a team meeting to discuss Sterling's comments on Saturday.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Saturday that his team would play Game 4, rather than boycott the game, and said that he isn't looking to clear the air with Sterling.
"A lot of guys voiced their opinions, none of them were happy about it," Rivers said, according to ESPNLA.com. "It has an impact and you move on. It upsets all of us. There’s not one guy that’s happy with this situation. ... We’re playing and we’re playing Golden State and Golden State is our enemy now. [Sterling and I] have not [talked] and we have not tried honestly. We don’t need a talk, alright. We don’t need that."
Paul, who happens to be the president of the National Basketball Players Association, issued a statement on Saturday.
"On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively," Paul said. "We have asked [Sacramento] 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 a drive to the Finals.”
On Saturday, Clippers center DeAndre Jordan posted an all-black, caption-less photo to Instagram on Saturday, an apparent silent protest against Sterling.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver pledged Saturday to investigate Sterling's alleged comments, with action expected to come within the next few days.
Former Clippers player Shaun Livingston also addressed Sterling's comments this weekend.
"It’s very unfortunate, but I think it kind of tells the same story as what’s been told if you pull up the record," Livingston said, according to Newsday. "I’ll definitely kind of pay attention to what happens because it’s going to put Adam Silver in kind of a tough spot."
Stephen Jackson, who played nine games for the Clippers this season, added his two cents.
"I'm glad the Clippers cut me," he wrote on Instagram. "That's why they don't want players like me in the game. Watch how they try to sweep this under the rug. I would not play another game [if] I was on that team. Not right, world. Not at all."
Many prominent NBA personalities have called for Sterling's banishment from the league.
TNT commentator Charles Barkley pointed to Sterling's track record and called for Silver to suspend and fine Sterling on Saturday.
"This is the first test of Adam Silver. He's got to suspend [Sterling] right now," Barkley said. "You can't have this guy making statements like that. [Silver] has to suspend him and fine him immediately. He has to be suspended. ... When you're in a position of power, and you can take jobs and economic opportunities from people, that's what crosses the line. We can't have an NBA owner discriminating against a league -- we're a black league."
Barkley's fellow panelists agreed.
"I think the league should take a very long, hard look at whether this guy should continue being an owner or not," Shaquille O'Neal said.
Ernie Johnson added: "If it's true, and it's him [on the audio], there's no place in the league for Donald Sterling in my mind."
"There is no room for Donald Sterling in our league," James said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "[Silver] must do something fast before this gets out of hand.”
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant also took a public stand against Sterling.
"I couldn't play for him," he wrote on Twitter.
Magic Johnson, who was named in Sterling's comments, has called on Sterling to sell his team.
Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, who has long been known for avoiding public stances on controversial subjects, issued a strong statement on Sunday.
"I look at this from two perspectives – as a current owner and a former player," Jordan said. "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.”
As the controversy unfolded Saturday, even President Barack Obama, who was in Malaysia at the time, addressed Sterling.
"The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive racist statements that were published," Obama said. "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 have confidence that NBA commissioner Adam Silver — a good man — will address this."
L.A. entered Sunday's action holding a 2-1 series lead over Golden State.