OAKLAND — In light of the inflammatory and racist comments allegedly made by team owner Donald Sterling and disclosed by TMZ.com, the Los Angeles Clippers wore their usual pregame warmup uniforms inside out and dumped their shooting jackets on the floor in a pile at center court.
With about 20 minutes to go before tipoff in Game 4 at Oracle Arena, the Clippers emerged from the tunnel, huddled together in center court, and proceeded to remove their jackets in unison. They were left in a pile until the team was finished warming up, an act they performed with their usual dress turned inside out so they looked like a team wearing nothing but matador capes.
All of the Clippers players are also wearing black armbands — in Chris Paul’s case, a black sleeve over his left arm, in lieu of his usual white — also as a sign of visible protest against Sterling’s purported comments, which were released in full by Deadspin.com Sunday morning.
"It’s just us, only us. We’re all we got," Clippers star guard Chris Paul could be heard shouting to teammates before they ran out.
Sterling’s wife, Shelly, was sitting courtside across from the Clippers’ bench. Commissioner Adam Silver had said Donald Sterling would not be at the game.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game that he would remain the only one to speak for the team on this, saying players want to remain focused on basketball. Even he, though, acknowledged that has not been easy since TMZ released the alleged recording of Sterling on Saturday.
"Our message is to play," Rivers said. "Our message is that we’re going to let no one and nothing stop us from what we want to do. And I think that’s a good message. I really do. I think that’s the message we’re trying to send. And if we can pull this off all the way, I think that would be a terrific message."
Rivers added: "As much as this is about basketball, this is life. And our guys, they have family. They have friends. And that have cellphones. And I can’t imagine how much they’ve been pulled on and talked to and what you should do and what you shouldn’t do and what you should say."