Bill Walton to NBA: Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Must Go

Bill Walton played with the Clippers for five years during the same time that Sterling took over and eventually moved the team to Los Angeles.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Former Clippers player Bill Walton talks with San Diego's Jim Laslavic about what he thinks should happen in the scandal involving LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

    Get Donald Sterling out of the NBA: that is former San Diego Clipper and Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton 's suggestion after what he calls Sterling's “despicable behavior.”

    “This is evil. This is ignorant. This is sick and this very weird," Walton told NBC 7 referring to reports alleging comments that were recorded by Sterling's girlfriend.

    Clippers Fans Lash Out at Sterling

    [LA] Clippers Fans Lash Out at Sterling
    Clippers fans lashed out at team owner Donald Sterling after an audio recording surfaced in which he allegedly made racist comments. Gadi Schwartz reports from Oakland for the NBC4 News at 5 on Sunday, April 27, 2014.

    TMZ and Deadspin have released audio they claim is of Sterling making racist remarks about his girlfriend bringing black people to his team’s games.

    Walton played with the Clippers for five years during the same time that Sterling took over and eventually moved the team to Los Angeles.

    Scandal Mars Clippers Game 4 in Oakland

    [LA] Scandal Mars Clippers Game 4 in Oakland
    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.

    While many in the NBA criticized comments made on an audio recording that TMZ reports was made of the Clippers owner, a spokesperson for the team questions whether the statements are real or even altered.

    NBC has not been able to authenticate the recordings.

    In a statement released Saturday, Clippers President Andy Roeser said, "Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings."

    Supporters suggest the recordings were leaked because the Sterling family is suing one of Sterling’s ex-girlfriends.

    NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's first priority is verifying Sterling's voice is on the recording.

    Meanwhile, the players are off Monday as they prepare for a critical Game 5 of their knotted-up Western Conference first-round series with Golden State on Tuesday night.

    The players union has asked Silver for a swift decision.

    They also want to ban Sterling from the rest of the playoffs because of the "enormous distraction" and a full account of past allegations of discrimination by Sterling and why the league never sanctioned him.

    Walton said he feels for the players and coaches. As a result of this scandal, he said the team has lost its will to win.

    "Nothing is more important than loyalty," he said. “How can you care after what went down?“

    But still, Walton says at the end of the day when you go to a game, pay for a ticket and parking, it's all going to Sterling. Something he says people just aren't going to want to do anymore.

    “If you're sitting around and you're saying to your buddies, what do you want to do tonight? How many of them after today's developments will jump up and say let’s go and give it to Mr. Sterling,” he said.

    The NAACP Los Angeles branch had planned to present Sterling with a lifetime achievement award next month but now the organization says that won't be happening.

    Other notable people who have spoken out against Sterling include Washington's Ted Leonsis, Miami's Micky Arison and perhaps most notably, Charlotte's Michael Jordan, who won six NBA titles as a player.

    Here is Roeser's statement in full:

    “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. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them. He is also upset and apologizes for sentiments attributed to him about Earvin Johnson. He has long considered Magic a friend and has only the utmost respect and admiration for him--both in terms of who he is and what he has achieved. We are investigating this matter.”

    Born in La Mesa, Walton began playing for UCLA in 1970 under John Wooden. He went on to play for the Portland Trailblazers 1974-1979, the San Diego Clippers 1979-1984, the relocated Los Angeles Clippers in 1985, and The Boston Celtics 1985-1988.