NBA players and fans were shocked this past weekend when the Los Angeles Clippers became wrapped up in a disgusting scandal dealing with racist remarks made by their billionaire owner, Donald Sterling.
In recently released audio tapes, Sterling, a business magnate, allegedly told his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, that he was uncomfortable with her posting pictures on Instagram posing with blacks. While Stiviano will not reveal where the tapes came from, her lawyers acknowledged that they are legitimate. Now, the NBA (and the country) is abuzz about the deplorable comments.
We're here to simplify the story for you. Here’s everything you need to know about the scandal:
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WHO IS DONALD STERLING?
Sterling, 80, began his career in the early 60s as a divorce and personal injury lawyer. He built an incredibly successful independent practice, and later ventured into real estate. In 1981, he acquired the Clippers for $12.5 million, and is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA.
in 1957, he married his now-estranged wife, Rochelle, with whom he had three children. One of his children, Scott Sterling, was arrested at age 19 for shooting his childhood friend. The case was dropped in 1999. However, in 2013, Scott was found dead at the age of 32 from an apparent drug overdose.
WHAT DID HE SAY?
On Saturday, TMZ released a 9-minute recording that allegedly captures Sterling expressing disapproval to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, for posting a picture of herself on Instagram with former Lakers player Magic Johnson and Dodgers player Matt Kemp. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” he tells her. “Do you have to?”
“I’m just saying, in your lousy [expletive] Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people," he said. "Don’t put [Magic] on Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
At one point, Stiviano points out that she's mixed race. Sterling says that's fine because she can pass as a "delicate white or delicate Latina girl."
On Sunday, Deadspin posted a longer version of the audio tapes in which Stiviano asks, “Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?” In response, he says: “Do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses.”
WHO IS V. STIVIANO?
V. Stiviano is Donald Sterling’s alleged girlfriend, and the woman whose voice can be heard on the audio tapes. She herself is also mixed race -- a point she makes repeatedly in the audio tapes. In the past, she’s said she is part black and Mexican.
The young model is keeping mum about who leaked the tapes, perhaps because she’s already at the center of another lawsuit. Sterling’s estranged wife, Rochelle Sterling, accused Stiviano of targeting extremely wealthy older men and filed a lawsuit accusing her of having an affair with the billionaire. The suit claims that Donald Sterling used the couple’s money to buy Stiviano a Ferrari, two Bentleys, and a Range Rover.
STERLING HAS A HISTORY OF RACISM:
Shockingly and sadly, this isn’t the first time Donald Sterling has been accused of racism. For years, reports of his deplorable behavior have been mostly ignored by the NBA.
In 2006, the Department of Justice brought housing-discrimination charges against Sterling for allegedly refusing to rent to African-Americans at his Los Angeles residential complexes. According to one of Sterling’s top property supervisors, the businessman said at one point: “That’s because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean... And it’s because of all the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day.”
Unfortunately, it doesn't end there. For a full breakdown of his past controversies, see Business Insider.
THE PLAYERS WANT JUSTICE:
The Clippers proved silence can be a powerful tool. Players from the basketball team staged a silent protest as they warmed for an NBA playoff game on Sunday afternoon. They removed their warm-up shirts bearing the team logo to reveal red T-shirts worn inside out, with the logos hidden.
Additionally, The National Basketball Players Association demanded Sterling be barred from all playoff games this season, and the players want an accounting of past accusations of racism against Sterling, an assurance that the league commissioner will work with the association, and assurance the investigation will be conducted swiftly.
OTHER PLAYERS HAVE SPOKEN OUT:
Several current players, including Chris Paul and LeBron James, and former players, such as Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, have spoken out about the controversy.
Legendary Chicago Bulls player and majority owner of the Chicago Bobcats, Michael Jordan, made an aggressive statement about the comments. “As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views,” he said. “As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA -- or anywhere else -- for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed.” Well said, Michael.
THERE IS AN INVESTIGATION UNDER WAY:
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday that Sterling, who has owned the basketball franchise for nearly three decades, is now under investigation over the comments. Silver said that the league’s investigation will seek to determine whether the recording is authentic and to figure out the context in which these “offensive and disturbing” comments were made.
However, Clippers President Andy Roeser suggested a woman -- whom he doesn’t mention by name -- was “getting even” with Sterling over a lawsuit. Roeser could be referring to Sterling’s ex-wife, Rochelle.
WHAT'S THE FALLOUT?
The President of the California NAACP suggested fans boycott Clippers games. “We also suggest that African-Americans and Latinos should honor (Sterling’s) request and not attend games,” Alice Huffman said in a statement released on Saturday.
Donald Sterling was, ironically, set to receive a lifetime achievement award at an event next month to mark the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles NAACP, but the national organization tweeted Sunday that wouldn’t happen.
Even President Barack Obama weighed in on the controversy. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened here,” he said. Ouch.
THIS IS NOT THE CLIPPERS FIGHT:
The NBA has stressed that this is not about the Los Angeles Clippers, who are currently in the midst of a heated playoff series against the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, the players -- who have been bombarded with questions about the controversy -- lost to Golden State in Game 4 of the series on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s not just the Clippers who were affected by this,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “Everyone in the league was affected.”
MAGIC JOHNSON WANTS TO BUY THE CLIPPERS:
One of the players at the center of the controversy, Magic Johnson, has now admitted that he is “absolutely interested” in purchasing the Los Angeles Clippers from Donald Sterling.
In March 2012, Magic Johnson became part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers after he and the Guggenheim Partners bid $2 billion for the team. Earlier this year, the group -- along with Johnson -- also purchased the WNBA’s LA Sparks.