Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling watches game with girlfriend V. Stiviano. / Getty Images
Until recently, Donald Sterling was mostly known (if at all) as the owner of the ‘other’ basketball team in Los Angeles.
It’s bad enough that his Los Angeles Clippers have long lived in the shadow of the iconic Lakers. Now Sterling, a real estate mogul who is Jewish and was born Donald Tokowitz, has now been exposed as a blatant racist.
Sterling is captured on an embarassing tape telling his much-younger model girlfriend not to be seen with so many people of color at ball games.
“Why are you taking pictures with minorities? Why?” Sterling asks his girlfriend, who goes by the name V. Stiviano, according to TMZ Sports.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” he adds. “Do you have to?”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who is also Jewish, called a hastily arranged news conference to address the issue Saturday night.
“The audio recording posted by TMZ is truly offensive and disturbing, and we intend to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible,” Silver said.
Clippers President Andy Roeser issued a statement noting that Stiviano is embroiled in a legal dispute with Sterling.
“Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings,” Roeser said.
Reverend Jesse Jackson told ESPN that Sterling should be suspended.
“Donald Sterling should be banned immediately. The question is for how long,” the civil rights activist said. “To do otherwise would subject his players to the indiginity of working for a racist.
Aside from his shameful opinions, Sterling also exposes that all may not be well in the bedroom, either.
“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want,” he says. “The little I ask you is not to promote it … and not to bring them to my games.
The rant is especially bizarre because the bombshell girlfriend is herself of mixed Mexican and African-American heritage.
“I’m sorry that you’re still racist in your heart,” she said.
Sterling is especially angered that Stiviano posed for photos with basketball legend Earvin (Magic) Johnson, who is closely associated with the crosstown rival Lakers.
“Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me,” Sterling says. “And don’t bring him to my games.”
Johnson quickly shot back: “It’s a shame Donald Sterling feels that way about African-American people,” TMZ Sports reported.
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
Clippers All-Star player Chris Paul called the tape “a very serious issue,” and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James was quoted as saying there was “no room for Donald Sterling in our league.”
It’s not the first time Sterling’s been branded a racist.
He was sued twice by the federal government for allegedly refusing to rent apartments to blacks and Latinos. He was also sued by former Clippers exec Elgin Baylor for racial discrimination, although a jury rejected the claim.