If there was any question how the Los Angeles Clippers would react to the revelation that team owner Donald Sterling was allegedly caught on tape making racist remarks, the players answered it before the start of Sunday’s playoff game against the Golden State Warriors.
When Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and company took the floor at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., before the game started, they silently pulled off their blue warmup jackets and dropped them over the Warriors logo on mid-court, revealing red warmup shirts turned inside-out to hide their team’s logo.
The players did so in a sign of protest against the team’s embattled owner, according to the Los Angeles Times, which reported that players also wore black armbands and black socks.
“The Clippers-less shirts are the perfect protest,” longtime sportswriter Rick Reilly tweeted.
Sterling was not in attendance for the game, which the team lost 118-97.
The loss occurred two days after TMZ released an audio recording that allegedly depicted Sterling making racist remarks about African-Americans during an argument with his then-girlfriend, V. Stiviano.
KTLA has not confirmed the authenticity of the audio, but her lawyer told the L.A. Times on Sunday that Sterling was on the recording.
Stiviano’s attorney, Mac Nehoray, who is representing her in a civil lawsuit brought against her by Sterling’s estranged wife, also said his client did not release the tapes.
The argument that was recorded began over an Instagram photo that allegedly showed Stiviano with Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
“In your lousy f——— Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with — walking with black people,” a man, purported to be Sterling, can be heard saying on the recording.
During the course of the conversation, he also asked the woman not to bring black people to his games.
“I’ve known [Johnson] well and he should be admired. … I’m just saying that it’s too bad you can’t admire him privately,” the man on the recording said. “Admire him, bring him here, feed him, f— him, but don’t put [Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
Paul, the Clippers’ star point guard and the president of the NBA’s players’ union, released a statement on Saturday after the controversy erupted.
“On behalf of the National Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively,” Paul’s statement said. “We have asked Mayor Kevin Johnson to extend his responsibilities with the NBPA to determine our response and our next steps.”
Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player, is the mayor of Sacramento, Calif.
“There needs to be an immediate investigation and if the reports are true, there needs to be strong and swift action taken,” Johnson tweeted. “I have spoken with NBPA President Chris Paul and I will be leading the NBPA in addressing the implications of this serious matter.”
With the Clippers loss on Sunday, their first-round Western Conference series with Warriors is now tied at two games apiece.
Game 5 is scheduled to take place on Tuesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, with tip-off set for 7:30 p.m.