How big has the story of Donald Sterling’s alleged racist comments gotten?
President Barack Obama was in a press conference as part of his trip through Asia, standing at a podium next to the Malaysian prime minister, he had been taking questions on the Russia-Ukraine developments, when a reporter asked him about Donald Sterling.
Obama, a huge basketball fan and not to mention the first African-American president, said this according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.
In case you wondered what this was all about, TMZ released a recording that is purported to be Sterling talking to his girlfriend (he and his wife are basically estranged) where he is angry she posted a photo of herself standing next to Magic Johnson on Instagram. Among the choice comments attributed to Sterling:
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”
“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”
“…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
That has blown up the NBA and sports world to become THE story to talk about.
In the wake of this it seems everyone has weighed in — including now the president.
The Clippers official statement included this:
“We have heard the tape on TMZ. 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.”
For the record, it is Sterling’s wife who brought the lawsuit saying that the mistress is a gold digger, essentially, and that the wife just wants to protect her community property with her husband of 50 years.
All these reactions has new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on a hot seat, he said this at a press conference Saturday night in Memphis.
“The audio recording posted by TMZ is truly offensive and disturbing, and we intended to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible….
“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. We will, however, move extraordinary quickly in our investigation.”
Magic Johnson said on twitter Sterling will get what he wants:
Chris Paul, the Clippers’ star player and president of the NBA players union, released this statement:
“On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is 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. 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.”
The game’s two biggest stars internationally — LeBron James and Kobe Bryant — weighed in (but Michael Jordan wouldn’t).
During Saturday night’s TNT broadcast of playoff games the crew of Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Anderson and Eddie Johnson weighed in and called for action.
They are not alone, countless writers and broadcasters have done the same (that includes PBT, where I have said the league needs to at least sideline him in the same way baseball did Marge Schott a couple of decades ago).
The guys in the most awkward position are the Clippers’ players — they are up 2-1 in a hard-fought playoff series with Golden State and have now to deal with this. Some have called for the players to boycott, coach Doc Rivers said they talked about it but didn’t think it was the appropriate response, as reported by Arash Markazi at ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“I don’t know if I’m surprised or not,” Rivers said. “I didn’t like the comments, obviously. We had a great team meeting this morning about it. A lot of guys voiced their opinions. None of them were happy about it. This is a situation where we’re trying to go after something very important for us. Something that we’ve all dreamed about all our childhoods. Donald or anyone else had nothing to do with that dream and we’re not going to let anything get in the way of those dreams.”
If the comments attributed to Sterling are ones he really made, the league and Silver will need to take some kind of action. Everyone, including the President of the United States, are calling for it.