Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, looks on while his team plays during the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty

NBA investigating racist comments allegedly from Clippers owner Donald Sterling


The NBA is investigating audio that allegedly reveals Los Angeles Clippers basketball team owner Donald Sterling making a series of racially charged remarks during an argument with a woman who appears to be his girlfriend.

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LA Clippers owner under fire after TMZ report

Judith Browne Dianis, Igor Volsky, Dorian Warren and Michael Tomasky discuss an audio recording released by TMZ allegedly of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and rancher Cliven Bundy’s recent comments on race.
Judith Browne Dianis, Igor Volsky, Dorian Warren and Michael Tomasky discuss an audio recording released by TMZ allegedly of L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling and rancher Cliven Bundy’s recent comments on race.
TMZ Sports published audio Friday that claimed to show Sterling arguing with his girlfriend for being seen in public with African-Americans after she posted on her Instagram account a picture she took with Magic Johnson.

“We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by TMZ,” NBA Communications Executive Vice President Mike Bass said in a statement. “The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the audio recording Saturday evening, saying, “All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy, which is why I’m not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling.”

Silver announced that Sterling would not attend the Clippers’ game Sunday against the Golden State Warriors and said the NBA hopes to have the investigation into the tape “wrapped up in the next few days.”

NBC News has not been able to authenticate the nearly 10-minute-long audio recording. A man TMZ said was Sterling can be heard telling a woman the site said was his girlfriend that he’s bothered when she “broadcasts” that she is “associating with black people.”

Listen to the audio below, via TMZ Sports:

When the woman identified by TMZ as Sterling’s girlfriend accused the man the site identified as Sterling of having problems with minorities, he replied, according to the tape: “There is no negativity. I love everybody. I’m just saying in your lousy f***** Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

“You can sleep with them. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want,” the man TMZ said was Sterling added. “The little I ask you is not to promote it on that, and not to bring them to my games.”

When the conversation turned to Magic Johnson, the woman TMZ said was Sterling’s girlfriend said she admires the former NBA star.

“I know him well, and he should be admired, and I’m just saying it’s too bad you can’t admire him privately,” the man TMZ claimed was Sterling said. “And during your entire f****** life, your whole life admire him, bring him here, feed him, f*** him, but don’t put it on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me, and don’t bring him to my games. Okay?”

Clippers President Andy Roeser issued a statement Saturday questioning the authenticity of the recording posted by TMZ and condemning the views expressed in it.

“We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered,” Roeser said in the statement. “We do know that the woman on the tape – who we believe released it to TMZ – is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even.’”

He added: “Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them. He is also upset and apologizes for sentiments attributed to him about Earvin Johnson. He has long considered Magic a friend and has only the utmost respect and admiration for him–both in terms of who he is and what he has achieved. We are investigating this matter.”

Johnson responded to the alleged remarks in a series of tweets vowing to never again attend a Clippers game “as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.” 

Chris Paul, president of the National Basketball Players Association and a point guard on the Clippers team, released a statement calling the alleged comments, “a very serious issue which we will address aggressively.”

“We have asked Mayor Kevin Johnson to expand his responsibilities with the NBPA, to determine our response and our next steps,” he added. “As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and a drive to the Finals.”

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson called the alleged comments “reprehensible and unacceptable,” in a statement released via twitter.

“The National Basketball Players Association must and will play a very active role in determining how this issue is addressed,” Johnson said. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and if the reports are true, there needs to be strong and swift action taken.”