(CNN, April 28, 2014) — Pressure is mounting on a longtime National Basketball Association team owner who allegedly made racist comments.
And it appears the NBA investigation into the audio recordings attributed to Donald Sterling, who has owned the Los Angeles Clippers since 1981, is moving swiftly, as the league has promised.
The league announced it would hold a 2 p.m. news conference on Tuesday to discuss the matter.
NBA legends have slammed Sterling and called for quick action by the league. Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson have said that if Sterling did indeed say what recordings posted on two popular news sites seem to suggest, he must face consequences.
Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star and the chairman of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee, on the NBPA website called for an “immediate investigation.”
If the recording is authentic, “there needs to be strong and swift action taken,” he said.
Sterling has not commented publicly on the scandal. Team President Andy Roeser issued a statement this weekend that said “what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect (Sterling’s) views, beliefs or feelings.” He suggested that the recording was an attempt by a woman to “get even” with Sterling.
Sterling’s wife, who is suing the woman, gave CNN affiliate KABC a statement Sunday night.
“Our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband,” Rochelle Sterling said. “My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices. We will not let one man’s small-mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love.”
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers told reporters Monday that he was offered an opportunity to speak to Sterling after the comments attributed to the team’s owner were posted online, but Rivers said he “passed.” Rivers added, “I don’t think right now is the time or place, for me at least. And so I just took a pass.”
The coach, in his first year with the Clippers, said he believes that Sterling did make the comments but said he wanted to find out if the recording was doctored.
Rivers confirmed the team’s players had talked about boycotting a playoff game but decided against it. Whether the coach or a player will address the fans before Tuesday’s Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors is being discussed internally, Rivers said. The teams each have two wins in the best-of-seven-games series.
Eleven Clippers sponsors have taken action. State Farm, Virgin America, Carmax, Red Bull were among companies to pull sponsorships, at least temporarily, CNN Money reported.
Sterling was to receive a lifetime achievement award at an event next month to mark the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles NAACP, but the national organization said Monday that would not happen.
Sterling had been given a lifetime achievement award from the organization in 2009, according to a brochure obtained by CNN.
Kevin Johnson spoke on CNN’s “New Day” on Monday, saying that Sterling is in a unique position and that any measures taken should consider that.
“When you have an owner, they’re in a position of influence,” he said. “And players are out there working very hard to be good at their craft, to win ballgames, but every time we have a playoff game, there’s dollars to be made. And if those dollars go into the pocket of an owner who doesn’t value or respect players, that is very problematic.”