AthleticBusiness.com has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

Copyright 2014 Gannett Company, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
USA TODAY

Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, probably the most popular figure in this city's proud basketball history, said he won't attend another Los Angeles Clippers game as long as Donald Sterling remains the owner.

And one of Johnson's former Los Angeles Lakers "Showtime" teammates, Mychal Thompson, said he wouldn't be surprised to see thousands of empty seats Tuesday at Staples Center when the Clippers host the Golden State Warriors in Game5 of their first-round playoff series, which is tied 2-2.

Outside of Los Angeles, from NBA icon Michael Jordan to current superstar LeBron James to organizations such as the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League, the reaction was just as loud and unified -- condemnation and calls for swift and decisive action by the NBA against Sterling.

That is the response to the public release of audiotapes in which a man said to be Sterling made racist remarks aimed at African Americans and, in one case, at Johnson specifically.

"The players are outraged," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star from whom players union president and Clippers guard Chris Paul sought advice. "The players want their voices to be heard. They want swift and decisive action."

Johnson spoke to ESPN at Oakland's Oracle Arena during the Warriors' 118-97 win. Afterward, Clippers coach Doc Rivers wondered if he had mishandled his team's message about how to cope with the controversy.

"I just know it's my job as a coach to get them ready, and I didn't do it," he said. "I thought I did the right stuff to get them ready. ... If it's because of the other thing, it's still my fault."

In a conversation with a woman thought to be his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, the married Sterling says he didn't like that she posed with Magic Johnson for a shot (posted on Instagram) and didn't want her bringing Johnson to Clippers games. Her attorney, Mac E. Nehoray, said in a statement that the conversation was legitimate.

"He shouldn't own a team anymore," Magic Johnson said Sunday on ESPN's pregame show.

Thompson, a Lakers broadcaster, radio talk show host at 710 ESPN and father of Warriors starting guard Klay Thompson, said on the air Sunday, "(Sterling) has said he doesn't want black people at his games, so I expect them to stay away."

Former NFL defensive lineman Marcellus Wiley, who also does a radio talk show in Los Angeles and makes no secret he is a Clippers fan, suggested he will stay away from Game5 with this tweet: "Donald Sterling's latest racist comments just freed up my tuesday night plans at staples. Shame on us ... we were warned! #HistoryRepeatsItself."

Wiley was referring to a string of lawsuits against Sterling alleging discriminatory housing practices. That includes Sterling agreeing in 2009 to a $2.765million settlement in a case that alleged discrimination against African Americans, Latinos and others at apartment buildings he owned in Los Angeles County.

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden, who played for the Clippers in 2009-10, said he was moved to look up Sterling's background and the discrimination lawsuits against him.

"There's documentation of him already being involved in these situations," Gooden said. "Now, his views and cultural differences are just out there more in the open.

"We know it's out there. It's no secret. It's out in the open, and just rise above it. Minorities as a whole have all had their struggles. This is another test for minorities to rise above it and go on with our lives."

Jordan, the Charlotte Bobcats owner and former superstar player who has been accused of not taking stands on social issues, made a strong, unambiguous statement. "As an owner, I'm obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views," he said. "I'm confident that (NBA Commissioner) 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. ... In a league where the majority of players are African American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level."

Said the Miami Heat's James: "There's no room for Donald Sterling in the NBA. ... It's very disrespectful, and it's appalling."

The NAACP, which previously honored Sterling with a lifetime achievement award, canceled plans to give him another. The Anti-Defamation League called the remarks reprehensible.

Clippers season ticketholder Brian Claypool, who sits on the same row as Paul's family, wants Sterling out -- now. "The remarks are so unsettling. They make me sick to my stomach," said Claypool, a civil rights attorney.

But he said the players will get the fans' support Tuesday: "Fans are going to be out in full support, and the Clippers will get beyond a standing ovation."

Some Clippers wondered what awaits them at Tuesday's game.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous," Paul said.

Said forward Blake Griffin: "I hope the fans are great. ... That really helps us out."

Contributing: Sam Amick in Oakland, Jeff Zillgitt in Washington

 

April 28, 2014

 

 
Copyright © 2014 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Terms and Conditions Privacy Policy