OAKLAND -- The Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers are in the middle of a hotly contended playoff series, but all media wanted to talk about in Sunday’s pregame news conferences with both head coaches was the response to racist comments allegedly made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
The NBA is investigating a recording leaked to media Saturday with a man, purported to be Sterling, telling a woman – allegedly Sterling’s girlfriend -- not to post pictures of herself associating with African-Americans on social media.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said the team discussed boycotting Sunday’s game in Oakland, but ultimately decided not to let the storm the recording created affect their job.
“We’re playing, and that’s our message,” he said. “The one thing I’ve learned is if our message doesn’t vibe with yours, that doesn’t make yours right. … 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.”
He did say he wouldn’t hold it against fans if they decided to boycott the team’s home games, as NBA legend Magic Johnson suggested they do.
“I would understand,” he said. “I hope not. We need them, I can tell you that. We need everybody. We play for them. We always have.”
The Clippers player removed their warmup gear that had Clippers logos on it and left them at half court before the game, and warmed up in blank red shirts instead.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said the incident “exposes some evil,” and that he sees it as an opportunity to spread a message that the world will not tolerate racist attitudes.
He said the attitudes expressed on the recording were not limited to just one man, though he did not see it as an attitude widespread in the NBA, which has only one minority team owner. He added that if he were out of a job and were offered one by the Clippers, he would turn it down.
“I will not make the thoughts of one person seem like the thoughts of an entire league,” he said. “At the same time I will not minimize or be foolish enough to believe that this is just one person -- not just in basketball, but in this world -- that feels this way. There are some extremely successful people that feel the same way. That’s a fact, and it’s unfortunate.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who was at Oracle Arena for Sunday’s game but did not talk to media, has said the league is conducting an investigation into the accuracy of the allegations and will decide on a reaction once the investigation is complete.