An audio recording released by TMZ has LeBron James, the NBA’s most talented and respected player, calling for the league to remove Clippers owner Donald Sterling and hinting the Clippers players should sit out the remainder of the playoffs in protest. The recording allegedly captures Sterling demanding his girlfriend not “broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” According to the report, Sterling also demands she “not to bring [black people] to my games,” including Magic Johnson.
In response, LeBron James said the if he played for the Los Angeles Clippers he’d strongly consider sitting out and that the league should end its association with Donald Sterling:
I kind of wavered back and forth whether I would actually sit out. If our owner would come out and say the things that he said, I would really have to sit down with my teammates, talk to my family because at the end of the day, our family, and our teammates are way more important than that. Basketball is huge, obviously the playoffs have been unbelievable, and I hate the fact that something like this has to come out when the playoffs have been unbelievable and the game of basketball continues to grow, but there is no room for Donald Sterling in our league. There is no room for him.
LeBron concluded that the league has “to do something and do something very fast and quickly before this really gets out of hand.” James said that Chris Paul, the Clippers point guard, is one of his best friends.
DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers starting center, posted an all-black image on Instagram, in what is being widely interpreted as a silent protest of Sterlings comments.
Kobe Bryant, the Lakers superstar who shares an arena with the Clippers, said he would not play for a team owned by Sterling. Kendall Marshall, a gaurd who played for the Lakers this season, explicitly called for the Clippers Players to sit out:
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) April 26, 2014
Former players also took a strong stance. Magic Johnson said he would never attend another Clippers game as long as Donald Sterling was owner, calling the incident a “black eye” for the NBA. On TNT, Shaquille O’Neal said “the league should take a very long, hard look at whether this guy should continue being an owner or not.” Lakers Hall-of-Famer James Worthy said “it would be hard for me to play another game for Sterling.”
Heat owner Micky Arison called Sterling’s remarks “offensive, appalling and very sad.” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took a different approach, tweeting that “Its playoff time, no reason to talk about anything in the NBA that does not relate to our Mavs.”
The Los Angeles Clippers released a statement weakly suggesting the audio may have been altered but also apologizing on behalf of Sterling.