LOS ANGELES, CA – Just when you thought we were one step closer to ending racism in America, something like this happens: Audio recordings of a man alleged to be Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling chastising his girlfriend, 38-year-old Vanessa Stiviano, for posting photos of herself on Instagram with black friends and celebrities. One in particular showing her alongside NBA great Magic Johnson.
“You can do anything,” the recording captures a male voice saying, “but don’t put him on Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games, okay?”
The comments have launched a firestorm.
“If you’re going to be like this, why are you owning a team in the NBA which is what, over 70% African-American basketball players?” Magic Johnson said. “So I think he should step down.”
Clippers players wore their practice jerseys inside-out in protest Sunday night and both the Rockets and the Trail Blazers wore black socks as a symbol of solidarity. But there’s more. Both Virgin America and Carmax are dropping their sponsorships with the Clippers and NBA commissioner Adam Silver is investigating and could take action if the recordings turn out to be true. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee has plans to meet with the commissioner. “I’ll be asking him to have a zero tolerance on racism and racist statements and I want it written. I want it actually written in their operating regulations.”
The NAACP was about to award sterling a lifetime achievement award until the recording became public. now, not so much. Then there are the fans.
“If I go to a game and pay my money, it would be very displeasing to me to know that this is how someone really feels about, not only my race, but any other race that comes and pays money,” Houstonian Nathan Binham told us.
The Clippers said they don’t know if the audio is legit, but that the statements don’t reflect Donald Sterling’s views. What we do know is that the heat from this one is going to be felt a long time to come.