LOS ANGELES —
Basketball fans are criticizing racial remarks allegedly made by the owner of the National Basketball Association's Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling.
Owner Donald Sterling was absent from his usual courtside seat when the Clippers faced the Golden State Warriors in a playoff game Sunday in Oakland, California. Team members staged a silent protest, however, wearing their warm-up suits inside out to hide the team's logo.
Sterling is a Los Angeles real estate magnate, and an audio tape released Friday on the website TMZ
features a man, allegedly Sterling, making derogatory comments about African Americans. The man was speaking with a woman said to be Sterling's former girlfriend. He asks the woman to not bring black people to his basketball games.
And he criticized her for posting a photo online taken with former NBA star Magic Johnson. Johnson, who spoke Sunday on the sports network ESPN, said Sterling should sell the team. “If he doesn't like African Americans and you're in a league that's over 70 percent African American ….,” Johnson commented.
Fans were outraged, and even President Barack Obama weighed in, speaking with reporters in Malaysia on his Asian trip. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk, and that's what happened here," he said.
At the Staples Center, the L.A. Clippers home arena, tourists pose at statues of the NBA's great players. Gail Parasram from Florida feels anger. “It really saddens me to know that there are still people like him with that mindset after all this country has been through,” she stated.
Fans like John Robinson from Northern California worry that attention surrounding Sterling is bad for the sport. “A championship caliber team, it's sad. It's really sad and disappointing," he said. "And you'd think that he would be more professional, especially as an owner of a franchise for the National Basketball Association.”
One family from Atlanta feels dismay, but not surprise, to encounter racist language, said daughter Kelly Aarons. “We are at a time where there's still some of that going on, and it's a little bit more subtle, but you know, it still happens,” she noted.
The players' association wants action, said former NBA player, association spokesman and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. "There is absolutely no place in the NBA family for ignorance, intolerance, reprehensible comments," he added.
Sterling has not denied the voice on the recording is his. NBA officials are investigating and are expected to announce possible sanctions against Sterlling at a Tuesday news conference.