Donald Sterling’s wife cheered on the Los Angeles Clippers from a suite at Staples Center during Tuesday night’s emotional Game 5 victory, just hours after her estranged husband was banned from the NBA for life.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said Rochelle "Shelly" Sterling asked his permission to attend the game — reportedly flanked by six bodyguards.
"She’s been through as much as anyone as well," Rivers said after the game. "And so she just wanted… She asked if she could come, which I thought was a very nice gesture. And she just wanted the players to know that … she told me to tell ’em that she loves ’em. So I thought, why not?"
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Rivers said he didn’t think Rochelle Sterling would assume an ownership role in light of Donald Sterling’s ban.
"It doesn’t sound like it, to be honest, and I think she knows that," he said. "But she still wanted to be here. And, y’know, I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but I thought it was right."
Rochelle Sterling released a statement on Sunday condemning her husband’s racist remarks.
"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."
Donald Sterling, 80, was recorded privately chastising his 31-year-old girlfriend for posting photos online of herself with Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.
”It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling asks.
On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver condemned the remarks, banned Sterling for life from any association with the league or his team, and fined him $2.5 million.
In March, Sterling’s wife sued the girlfriend, V. Stiviano, seeking the return of more than $2.5 million in lavish gifts the woman allegedly received from her husband, including luxury cars and a $1.8 million duplex.
It accuses Stiviano of engaging ”in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from, cheat and/or receive as gifts transfers of wealth from wealthy older men whom she targets for such purpose.”
Stiviano’s attorney has filed documents to dismiss many of the accusations and denies that she took advantage of Sterling, describing him as having an ”iron will” and being one of the world’s shrewdest businessmen.