Fred Roggin, James Wulff
Game 4 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors should have been about basketball, but it wasn't. It was about the scandal surrounding team owner Donald Sterling. Fred Roggin reports from Oakland for the NBC4 News at 5 on Sunday, April 27, 2014.
Members of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team are turning their shirts inside-out in what appears to be a player-fueled protest against the team’s embattled owner Donald Sterling, who has come under fire after TMZ released audio they say is of Sterling making racist remarks about his girlfriend bringing black people to his team’s games.
Clippers players hit the hardwood Sunday afternoon for Game 4 of a playoff match-up against the Golden State Warriors. Led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, Clippers players took off their warm-up gear to reveal inside-out red T-shirts, which hid the Clippers team insignia usually emblazoned front and center.
The team collectively dumped pieces of their warm-up gear at mid-court, and many players were seen wearing black tape, socks and wrist bands. Sterling's estranged wife, Rochelle Sterling, was present at the game wearing all black, too.
“Love your team, but despise your owner’s racist ways,” NBA analyst Jalen Rose said during the game’s halftime report, endorsing the players’ move.
Throughout the game, players continued to wear their team-issued gear, excluding uniforms, inside-out:
CP3: "We're going to be one. Everything we do, we do it together." pic.twitter.com/aQC4kcNEMZ
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 27, 2014
TMZ Sports over the weekend released an audio clip of a man they say is Sterling talking to his girlfriend about his distaste for her associating with black people -- especially at his team’s games.
The circulation of the audio has prompted an outpouring of negative responses from well-known figures inside and outside of the NBA, including former Lakers star Magic Johnson, rapper Snoop Dogg and President Barack Obama, among others.
At time of publication, players had yet to comment on the warm-up gear protest. Game 5 of the Clippers' series against the Warriors is scheduled for April 29 at the STAPLES Center.
The Clippers organization is currently conducting an investigation into the allegations against Sterling. Clippers president Andy Roeser released a statement Saturday that suggested that the woman who is believed to have released the tapes to TMZ is currently involved in a lawsuit with Sterling.
"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,'" Roeser said.
The woman, V. Stiviano, is challenging the case. Nehoray Legal Group, who represents Stiviano in the case, said in a news release Sunday that the audio-tapes are legitimate and are part of a longer recording about one hour in length.
Stiviano’s attorney denied that his client leaked the recording to media.
“Ms. Stiviano did not release the tape(s) to any news media,” attorney Mac E. Nehoray said in the statement. "Due to the present litigation and its absurd allegations, which Ms. Stiviano vehemently denies, Ms. Stiviano and this office have no comments at this time."