NBA investigates alleged audio of Clippers owner Sterling

PLAYA DEL REY - National Basketball Association officials today began an investigation into incendiary comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
In an audio released by the entertainment news website, a man identified by TMZ and other sources as  Sterling reportedly told his girlfriend that he did not the woman to bring black men to Clippers games, or socialize with them publicly.
"You can sleep with them, you can bring them in, you can do whatever you want," a male voice said. "The little I ask is that you not promote it... and not bring them to my games."
The man on the audio also criticized the woman for posting a photograph of her and former Laker star Earvin "Magic" Johnson on the website Instagram.
"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 any more games, OK?" he said.
Johnson responded to the comments on Twitter.
"LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA," Johnson said.
Clipper President Andy Roeser issued a statement offering a possibility the voice on the audio was not Sterling's.
"We have heard the tape on TMZ," Roeser said. "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," Roeser said. "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," Roeser said. "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."
Clipper head coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers told a media throng in San Francisco -- where the team was preparing for Sunday's first-round Game 4 NBA playoff contest the Golden State Warriors in Oakland -- that the team to a person was angered by the developments.
"It upsets all of us," Rivers said. "There's not one guy on the team who's happy with this situation," but insisted that he and Clipper players have cast the controversy aside in order to focus on Sunday's game and the quest to win an NBA championship.
Clipper point guard Chris Paul, president of the NBA players union, called the report "a very serious issue that we will address aggressively."
But for now,  Paul said, "as players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep out focus on the game, the playoffs, and the drive to the (NBA) Finals."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at an afternoon news conference that an investigation into the matter will "move quickly," with one of the primary intents determining if the voice on the audio is Sterling's.
The investigation will be completed in the next few days, possibly before the Clippers Tuesday playoff game against Golden State at the Staples Center -- which Sterling has agreed not to attend, Silver said.
"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. "I personally think the situation is most unfair to the Clippers players and coaches who have to deal with this distraction in the middle of their own highly competitive playoff series."
Silver said rumors of a potential boycott of Sunday's game by Clipper players were unfounded. He also stressed the importance of not rushing to judgment of Sterling, saying he deserves his day in court.
"All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy, which is why I'm not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling," Silver said. "We will, however, move extraordinarily quickly in our investigation."
Last month, Sterling's wife, Rochelle filed suit against a female Clippers employee identified as V. Stiviano, claiming she had an affair with her husband and had schemed to embezzle $1.8 million from Sterling.
TMZ reported that the alleged audio of Sterling was recorded by Stiviano, described as a "personal assistant" to Sterling in the suit.
No one answered calls to the Clipper offices in Playa Del Rey, or at Sterling's offices in Beverly Hills today.
Sterling is no stranger to court proceedings.
In 2009, he paid a more than $2.7 million settlement to the Justice Department in a rental discrimination suit for which he not required to admit wrongdoing.
In 2005, he paid an undisclosed amount in a suit alleging he tried to force non-Koreans out Koreatown apartments he owned.

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