NBA looking into alleged Sterling comments
New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The NBA has begun investigating an alleged audio recording of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that contained several racially-charged remarks.
The comments, alleged to have been made by Sterling to a woman believed to be his girlfriend, were released by TMZ.com on Friday. In the nearly 10-minute tape, the man speaking tells the woman he is bothered by her association with African Americans and directly asks her not to bring them to any Clippers games.
According to TMZ, Sterling was particularly upset that the woman, named by the website as V. Stiviano, posted a picture on her Instagram account of her with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson .
Stiviano is reported to be of both black and Mexican descent.
"We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by TMZ," NBA spokesman 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."
The Clippers are also investigating the tape to see if it's legitimate or has been altered and said the woman on the tape is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging she embezzled almost $2 million from them.
The team said Sterling doesn't believe the comments on the recording are consistent with his beliefs.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who is president of the National Basketball Players Association, said in a statement that the players union was going to "aggressively" address the situation.
Paul said the union has asked longtime NBA point guard and current Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson to expand his responsibilities with the NBPA "to determine our response and our next steps."
"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," Paul said.
Kevin Johnson called the alleged comments "reprehensible and unacceptable" and said the union has to take an active role in determining how the situation is handled.
"There needs to be an immediate investigation and if the reports are true, there needs to be strong and swift action taken," he said in a statement. "I will be formally reaching out to the NBA today to determine our next steps. While I originally came on to lead the executive director search, this issue requires immediate attention from the players association."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver will hold a press conference on the matter at 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
"We have heard the tape on TMZ," Clippers president Andy Roeser said in a statement. "We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered. 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.'
"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."
Magic Johnson responded on Twitter that he and his wife "will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner."
This is not the first time Sterling, who has owned the Clippers since 1981, has been embroiled in controversy.
In 2009, he was fined over $2.7 million by the U.S. Justice Department to settle allegations he discriminated against African-Americans, Hispanics and families with children at apartment buildings he controls in Los Angeles.
Two years later, Sterling won a lawsuit filed by former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor, who accused the team of firing him based on his age.
Sterling also previously reached a settlement with a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment.
04/26 18:36:29 ET