The Los Angeles Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling before they faced the Golden State Warriors for Game 4 of their first-round series Sunday. Instead, they made a silent protest. In response to Sterling’s purported comments urging a woman to not bring black people to his team’s games, the Clippers let their uniforms become a show of solidarity.
They ran out of the tunnel wearing their usual warmup uniforms. Then they huddled at center court and tossed the outer layer of their warmups to the ground, going through their pregame routine with their red Clippers’ shirts on inside out to hide the team’s logo.
Players also wore black wristbands or armbands during the game, which they lost 118-97. They also donned black socks with their normal jerseys. “It’s just us, only us. We’re all we got,” Clippers point guard Chris Paul could be heard shouting to teammates before they ran out.
The Warriors’ announced sellout crowd of 19,596, decked out in gold shirts, booed the Clippers — as they always do —during team introductions.
Sterling’s wife was sitting courtside across from the Clippers’ bench. Commissioner Adam Silver had said Donald Sterling would not be at the game.
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FOCUS NOT EASY
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said prior to the game that he would remain the only one to speak for the team on the issue because players wanted to remain focussed on basketball. Afterward, Rivers said he knew what his players had planned but didn’t voice his opinion.
Rivers said he wasn’t thrilled about the demonstration, though he didn’t elaborate why. Even he, though, acknowledged that staying focussed has not been easy since TMZ released the alleged recording of Sterling. “Our message is to play,” Rivers said. Shooting guard J.J. Redick, who is white, said the controversy has impacted everybody on the team and around the league. He also admitted it might have affected their preparation.”Maybe our focus wasn’t in the right place would be the easiest way to say it,” Redick said.
PLAYERS SPEAK OUT
While the Clippers wanted to let their play do the talking, other NBA players continued to speak out on the subject.
Some talked about the hurt Sterling’s alleged words caused. Others urged Silver to take an aggressive stance against Sterling, who has a history of alleged discrimination. Most of them hoped Sterling would be removed as the team’s owner someday soon. Miami Heat star LeBron James said Silver needed to take action, going so far as to suggest “there is no room for Donald Sterling in our league”.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant wrote on his Twitter page that he couldn’t play for Sterling. Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who played for the Clippers from 1992-94, said he could forgive Sterling but couldn’t play for him right now, either.