An audio recording purportedly of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks to his girlfriend is being investigated by the NBA.
In the recording, the man believed to be Sterling questions his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, about her association with minorities. TMZ reports that Stiviano, who is black and Mexican, posted a picture of her with Magic Johnson on Instagram, a photo that has since been removed.
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" the man believed to be Sterling says. He continues, "You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that ... and not to bring them to my games."
NBA spokesman Mike Bass issued the following statement: "We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by TMZ. The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information."
Johnson wrote in a series of tweets that he would not attend another Clippers game while Sterling owned the team.
TMZ reported this morning that Clippers owner Donald Sterling doesn't want me or other African-Americans to come to Clippers games.- 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
In a later tweet he added:
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA.- Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
Reverend Jesse Jackson also weighed in on Sterling's alleged comments.
"The first burden is upon the commissioner, Adam Silver, to act decisively because we don't want this to drag on throughout the playoffs," the noted civil rights activist said. "Donald Sterling should be banned immediately. The question is for how long. To do otherwise would subject his players to the indignity of working for a racist.
"And since Donald Sterling doesn't want blacks to go to his games, blacks should not go to his games. And whites who view blacks as equals should not go to his games. Why should the players even play for him when he has stated that their relatives -- their children, their parents, some of their wives -- are not welcome at their games?"
The Los Angeles Daily News reports that Clippers players held a meeting regarding the audio, according to a source. The team has yet to comment.
Players around the league began reacting as news of the investigation spread.
One player on a Western Conference playoff team, preferring to remain anonymous until more details about the validity of the recording surface, told ESPN he and his teammates were "pissed" when they heard of the story.
"We're waiting to see what is said [by the league] or how it's handled," said the player. "If roles were reversed, you know people wouldn't let it ride."
Former Clipper Baron Davis took to Twitter to express his thoughts about Sterling.
That's the way it is...He is honest about what he believes in..Been going on for a long time, Hats off 2 the Team.. 4 playin above it all.- Baron Davis (@Baron_Davis) April 26, 2014
Last month, CBS reported that Rochelle Sterling, Sterling's wife, filed a lawsuit against Stiviano, alleging she had a sexual affair with her husband. The suit, which states Sterling and Stiviano began their relationship after meeting at the Super Bowl in 2010, asks for a return of all cash, land cars and other items that under California law are the community property of the Sterlings.
Sterling, a real estate mogul, bought the Clippers in 1981. He's been the longest-tenured owner in the NBA since Lakers owner Jerry Buss died last year.
He has been frequently criticized for his frugal operation of the Clippers, although in recent years he has spent heavily to add stars such as Chris Paul and Doc Rivers, who led the team back to the playoffs in his first season as coach.
Sterling has been involved in several lawsuits over the years, including ones with discrimination accusations.
In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks and to families with children. The Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006 for allegations of housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles.
In March 2011, Sterling won a lawsuit against former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor when a jury rejected the Hall of Famer's claim of age discrimination and harassment. Baylor, who was 76 at the time, had sought about $2 million after claiming he was forced out of the job he'd held for 22 years. The team said Baylor left on his own and a jury awarded him nothing.
Sterling is a courtside fixture at home games. He rarely visits the team's locker room at Staples Center, although he made an appearance in December 2012 after the Clippers had won their 11th straight game, when he led an awkward locker room cheer.
Information from ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard, ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi and Dave McMenamin, and The Associated Press was used in this report.