Rivers makes it no secret: His future with Clippers far from certain
More than a day has passed since the incendiary, racially offensive comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling were made public. But with Sunday beginning with the release of yet another recording alleged to contain the voice of Sterling making racist statements, followed by the Clippers players making quite a statement as they took the floor, it is clear the scandal’s impact continues to grow as the Clippers continue their playoff run.
And based on head coach Doc Rivers’ comments Sunday, the impact could cost the franchise plenty on the court as well as off of it.
Rivers addressed the controversy in a pregame news conference Sunday before the Clippers took on the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., in Game 4 of their playoff series. During the news conference, Rivers was asked whether Sterling or the Clippers organization needed to say or do anything to make him want to continue working for the team.
"Don’t know yet. I’m just going to leave it at that," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Shortly after the news conference, the Clippers players made their own protest, creating an amazing scene when they took the floor with their pregame warm-ups turned inside-out so that the Clippers logo was not visible, then throwing the warm-ups into a pile on the center-court logo.
But once the ball was tipped, the Warriors did their best to become the story, thumping L.A. 118-97 to even the series at two games apiece.
Afterward, however, Rivers wasn’t allowing the controversy surrounding Sterling to serve as an excuse for his team’s play.
"I didn’t do my job tonight," Rivers said, "and I take that personally."
Rivers is in his first year as coach of the Clippers. His previous head coaching stops have been with the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics, the latter of which he led to an NBA championship in 2008.
According to the LA Times, Rivers said he had not talked to Sterling since the report of the comments came to light and that he feels no need to do so at the moment.
"Our guys, they have family," the Times quoted Rivers as saying before the game. "They have friends. And they 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."
The Clippers and Warriors will next face off in Game 5 on Tuesday night at Staples Center in Los Angeles. One would think the Clippers would have home-court advantage. But don’t tell that to Rivers:
Also on Sunday:
Deadspin released what it called "The Extended Donald Sterling Tape". In it, the voice alleged to be that of Sterling reiterates a dislike of black people at Clippers games, and seems to use the fact that he pays players and the treatment of black Jews in Israel as justification for his beliefs.
An attorney representing the woman on the audio who apparently is the one responsible for the recordings claims the male voice on the recordings is indeed Sterling, but added that his client, V. Stiviano, has no idea how the media obtained the recordings.
Sterling’s wife Rochelle, who is suing Stiviano for embezzlement, reportedly told ESPN during the broadcast of the Clippers’ playoff game that she does not support the comments attributed to her husband and that she herself is not a racist.
NBA legend and current Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan expressed his outrage at the comments.
The NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter announced it will no longer honor Sterling with a lifetime achievement award, as was planned for a May 15 gala.
And then there were these:
Donald Sterling's racist remarks? What he's been saying for yrs. I think he should be stripped of his championship rings. All zero of them.
— Bette Midler (@BetteMidler) April 27, 2014
He may own the team but they belong to us. Go Clippers!
— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) April 27, 2014