Los Angeles Clippers owner "Donald Sterling was AWARE he was being taped during the conversation that was posted on TMZ Sports, in which the L.A. Clippers owner [allegedly] went on a racial rant … so claims the woman who taped him," TMZ Sports reported on Sunday, April 27, 2014. [Emphasis of word "aware" in the original.]
The TMZ story continues, saying that a source somehow connected with Sterling's former girlfriend, V. Stiviano, said that "the full conversation lasted approximately 1 hour. We're told Stiviano insists it was clear to Sterling at the beginning of the conversation he was being recorded."
Furrthermore, according to the TMZ story, sources told the website that "Stiviano routinely recorded her conversations with Sterling as HIS 'archivist.' And what's more … she would regularly play the tapes back to him because he would often forget what he had said." [Emphasis in the original.]
In a separate story, TMZ Sports said, "The audio recordings of Clippers owner Donald Sterling are 'legitimate' and roughly 1 hour in length … lawyers for Sterling's then-girlfriend V. Stiviano tell TMZ Sports."
One of the lawyers, Mac E. Nehoray, said in a statement, according to TMZ, "This office understands that the currently released audio tape of approximately 15 minutes is a portion of approximately one (1) hour of overall audio recording of Mr. Donald T. Sterling and Ms. Stiviano, and is in fact legitimate. Ms. Stiviano did not release the tape(s) to any news media."
The original TMZ audio tape ran about 9 minutes. The sports news site Deadspin said it had obtained the entire 15-minute excerpt. Says Deadspin:
"In this audio, Sterling [allegedly] expresses ideas similar to the ones he did in the original: The world will think certain things if you're seen with black people, he tells his mistress, so you should not be seen with them in public, and under no circumstances should you bring them to Clippers games. How does he square his dim view of black people with the fact that he has an NBA team full of black players? Sterling [allegedly] responds with a breathtaking non-sequitur.
V: I don't understand, I don't see your views. I wasn't raised the way you were raised.
DS: Well then, if you don't feel — don't come to my games. Don't bring black people, and don't come.
V: Do you know that you have a whole team that's black, that plays for you?
DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have — Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?
Here is the official Clippers response to the original TMZ tape excerpt, as posted on the team's website:
STATEMENT FROM CLIPPERS PRESIDENT ANDY ROESER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Andy Roeser, president of the L.A. Clippers, today issued the following statement:
“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.”
News reports list Sterling's current age as 80 or 81.
Elgin Baylor, the former Los Angeles Lakers star, was employed by Sterling's Clippers for 22 years. He exited from the Clippers in 2008. In February 2009 Baylor filed a wrongful termination suit against the team. A 2010 article in the Los Angeles Times about the suit said: "In his deposition, Baylor spoke about what he called Sterling's 'plantation mentality,' alleging the owner in the late 1990s rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because of race. Baylor quoted Sterling as saying: 'Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players.' Baylor said he was shocked. 'And he [Sterling] looked at me and said, "Do you think that's a racist statement?" I said, "Absolutely. That's plantation mentality."'"
An article on the CBS News website notes this about Baylor's lawsuit: "In March 2011, Sterling won a lawsuit against former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor when a jury rejected the Hall of Famer's claim of age discrimination and harassment. Baylor, who was 76 at the time, had sought about $2 million after claiming he was forced out of the job he had held for 22 years. The team said Baylor left on his own and a jury awarded him nothing."
On Saturday, April 26, 2014, Baylor, when asked about the latest alleged comments by Sterling, said he would not comment until he first consulted an attorney, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The CBS News article also says: "Sterling, a real estate owner, bought the Clippers in 1981. He is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA since Lakers owner Jerry Buss died last year.
"He has been frequently criticized for his frugal operation of the Clippers, although in recent years he has spent heavily to add stars such as [Chris] Paul and [Doc] Rivers, who is in his first year as coach. Sterling has been involved in several lawsuits over the years, including ones with accusations of discrimination.
"In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks and to families with children. The Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006 for allegations of housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles."
On Sunday, April 27, 2014, "New NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he will not take immediate action against Clippers owner Donald Sterling for alleged racist comments but promised to wrap up an investigation into the scandal 'in the next few days,'" according to a story in USA Today.
The USA Today story continues: "Silver, facing his first major controversy since succeeding David Stern earlier this season, said at a press conference before the Grizzlies-Oklahoma City playoff game that the league 'plans to get to the bottom' of whether a recording alleged to be Sterling making racist comments is authentic."
Meanwhile, the remarks allegedly made by Sterling were roundly criticized by a number of NBA players and others.
President Barack Obama, traveling in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said in a press conference that the comments were " 'incredibly offensive racist statements,' before casting them as part of a continuing legacy of slavery and segregation that Americans must vigilantly fight," according to a separate CBS News story. " 'When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk,' Obama said when asked to respond to Donald Sterling's reported comments."
The CBS News report also mentioned that "Obama cast the comments through a broader prism of racism in America, adding that 'we constantly have to be on guard on racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength.'
" 'The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation — that's still there, the vestiges of discrimination,' Obama said. … 'We've made enormous strides, but you're going to continue to see this percolate up every so often,' he added. 'And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why statements like this stand out so much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.' "