Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Clippers owner ignites uproar

Alleged to have made anti-black comments

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Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano, left, take in a Clippers game against the the Sacramento Kings last fall. Sterling is being accused of discouraging Stiviano from associating with blacks.

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Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and V. Stiviano, left, take in a Clippers game against the the Sacramento Kings last fall. Sterling is being accused of discouraging Stiviano from associating with blacks.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers would prefer to be talking about how well Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan have played against the Golden State Warriors. Or how his team has defended Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Or just about anything that has happened on the court in the first-round playoff series.

Instead, Rivers and his players spent Saturday talking about how they would respond to an audio recording of a man identified as Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to games.

"The fact that I had to spend 45 minutes in a meeting instead of watching film did not make me happy," Rivers said.

Whether the comments -- which drew sharp criticism and calls for action from around the NBA -- would effect the Clippers in Game 4 today against the Warriors is all that worries Rivers right now. Los Angeles leads the series 2-1.

Chasing a title is the reason Rivers said players decided against protesting or even boycotting the game. They want to win for each other, he said, and not for Sterling.

"For me, I want to focus on my guys. I came here for them. They came here for each other. Our goals have not changed," Rivers said passionately after the Clippers' practice at the University of San Francisco. "It's like one of the players said, 'Hey, when I was a kid, I had a goal to win a world championship. It was to do that. It wasn't to win a world championship for someone.' "

Point guard Chris Paul released a statement through the players' union that said "this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively." Paul and Clippers all-star forward Blake Griffin declined further comment on the issue after practice. Other players were not made available.

"A lot of guys voiced their opinions. None of them were happy about it," Rivers said.

Sterling, a real estate owner who has a decades-long history of alleged discrimination and offensive behaviour, made his team the centre of NBA attention for all the wrong reasons again.

In a recording posted on TMZ's website, a man reported to be Sterling questions his girlfriend's association with minorities. Clippers president Andy Roeser said in a statement the team did not know if the tape is legitimate.

The person identified by TMZ as Sterling can be heard in the recording, said to be made this month, telling a female friend, identified as V. Stiviano, that he was upset she posted a picture on her Instagram account of herself next to Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people," the man in the recording says, later adding: "I'm just saying, in your... Instagrams, you don't have to have yourself with, walking with black people."

"Don't put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me," he says. "And don't bring him to my games."

Roeser also said the views expressed on the recording do not reflect Sterling's beliefs and that the woman on the tape -- identified by TMZ as V. Stiviano -- "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.' "

Sterling has not commented.

-- The Associated Press / Los Angeles Times

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 27, 2014 B7

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