The Los Angeles Clippers players wore their feelings about the scandal surrounding the team owner Donald Sterling on their chests today before their NBA playoff game against the Golden State Warriors.
The team came to the center of the court and dumped their warmup jerseys, then ran through their pregame drills wearing their red Clippers T-shirts inside out, hiding the team name, a day after a tape recording was posted online in which a man -- purportedly Sterling -- goes on a racist rant in an argument with a woman identified as V. Stiviano.
They also wore black wristbands or armbands, and all wore black socks with their normal jerseys.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said the team had considered boycotting the game today against the Golden State Warriors, but decided to play.
The controversy may have taken a toll on the team -- or maybe it was just the sharpness of the Warriors. Los Angeles gave up 39 points in the first quarter and trailed by as much as 21 points in the first half. The Clippers never recovered, losing 118-97, as the Warriors evened the playoff series at two games apiece.
In a courtside interview during the game, NBA Players Association Special Assistant Kevin Johnson, a former player who is currently the mayor of Sacramento, Calif., said players are "outraged" by what they heard on the tape. He said they want to be involved as league officials investigate and have a voice in whatever action the league takes.
The Clippers released a statement Saturday denying the accuracy of the tape and saying that the racist remarks on it are "the antithesis of who [Sterling] is."
The statement also linked the recording with a lawsuit Sterling's wife filed against his girlfriend in March, in which Rochelle Sterling alleges that Stiviano conned her husband into buying her extravagant gifts, which she would not return.
"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," the statement read.
Lawyers for V. Stiviano confirmed today that is is their client's voice on the 15-minute conversation, which they said is part of an hour-long recording, but that she "did not release the tape(s) to any news media."
They also called the allegations in the lawsuit brought against Stiviano "absurd."
Amid calls from current and former players and fans for Sterling to be severely sanctioned or even forced to sell the team, the NBA said Saturday it is investigating whether the tape is authentic. The league is expected to come to a decision by Tuesday.
Among members of the basketball community who expressed their anger about comments made on the recording was Magic Johnson, who was inadvertently roped into the controversy. The argument on the tape purportedly arose from of a photo Stiviano had posted with the Lakers legend on Instagram.
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
.@cjbycookie and I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
Other basketballers also expressed their anger over the remarks.
I couldn't play for him— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 26, 2014
President Obama also weighed in, calling the comments "incredibly offensive."
"I have confidence that NBA commissioner [Adam Silver] will address this," Obama said during a press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur. "Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country. It's got a lot of African-American players, steeped in African-America culture, and I suspect the NBA is concerned and going to be resolving this."