President Obama, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan Blast Clippers' Donald Sterling Over Racist Remarks
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is facing a professional and personal debacle of cataclysmic proportions after the release Friday, courtesy of TMZ, of recorded racist comments he allegedly made to a friend about African-Americans.
In the recording, which rocked the sports world on Saturday, a man identified as Sterling by the gossip empire Harvey Levin built scolds his female companion, named as Sterling’s girlfriend V. Stiviano, for “associating with black people” on the social media platform Instagram.
Specifically, Sterling allegedly reprimanded Stiviano (who identifies as “black and Mexican” in the recording) for posting a photo of herself posing with basketball legend Magic Johnson at a recent Clippers game. “It bothers me a lot that you want to promo, broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” says the speaker in the recorded footage. “Do you have to?”
Extrapolating further, the man specifies that his friend “can sleep with [African-Americans], you can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote on [Instagram],” adding that she also shouldn’t “bring them to my games.”
TMZ reported Sunday that Sterling acknowledged he told her to remove the snapshot from her Instagram feed.
The resulting fallout from TMZ’s report was swift and wide-ranging, reaching all the way up to the highest echelons of leadership in the NBA — not to mention the U.S. government. President Obama weighed in on Saturday from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, calling the instantly infamous comments “incredibly offensive racist statements” and gesturing at America’s troubled history of race relations and slavery.
Meanwhile, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also spoke up that day, characterizing the leaked remarks as “truly offensive and disturbing” and ensuring that the investigation into the incident was proceeding apace. Silver also announced that Sterling would not be attending his team’s playoff game against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Sunday.
However, Silver stopped short of putting Sterling on ice with a formal suspension, with which some, including Miami Heat forward LeBron James, took issue. “If the reports are true, it’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable in our league. It doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, Hispanic, whatever, all across the races. It’s unacceptable and as a commissioner in our league, they have to make a stand, and they have to be very aggressive with it,” James said before Saturday’s Heat match against the Charlotte Bobcats.
As a key figure in the controversy, Magic Johnson also made the fallout from the Sterling controversy the NBA’s problem, tweeting “LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA,” and declaring in a phone interview Saturday with the Los Angeles Times, “I will never again set foot in Staples Center when the Clippers are playing … I know where I’m not wanted.”
Other public figures adding heat to the critical firestorm included the Rev. Al Sharpton, who told TMZ about plans for a protest slated for Tuesday at the NBA’s New York headquarters; basketball legend and Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, who said he was “disgusted” by the remarks; and rapper Lil Wayne, who vowed, “If I was a Clipper fan, I wouldn’t be one anymore. It’s that simple.”
This isn’t Sterling’s first time at this particular rodeo — the Clippers owner in 2009 paid $2.73 million to settle a case brought by the government charging that he wouldn’t rent apartments that he owned to minorities and families with kids, according to the L.A. Times.
For his part, Snoop Dogg made his point loud and clear — and unmistakably blunt — in a video message recorded for the occasion. (Warning: Salty commentary ahead.)
Here’s the initial recording released by TMZ:
–Posted by Kasia Anderson