Clippers’ recovery is just beginning

By Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com


VIDEO: GameTime’s crew discusses the fallout from Donald Sterling’s comments

OAKLAND – By the end — of the game, of the trip they unfortunately will never forget, of the questions to Barack Obama in Malaysia — the worst thing of all was waiting for the Clippers.

The reality that it was not the end.

Sunday actually marked the earliest days of the Donald T. Sterling saga, not the chance to put it behind them. The controversy over racist remarks attributed to Sterling isn’t going away, what has suddenly become an entirely unpredictable future for a roster that once seemed locked up isn’t going away and, oh, by the way, the Warriors aren’t going away either.

The Clippers who pulled away from Oracle Arena for the bus ride to the airport and the hour flight back to Los Angeles were a fragile group, a head coach angry to the point of getting choked up on the podium at the postgame news conference and a roster with raw, fragile emotions. They hadn’t been that way during the regular season, showing a commendable fortitude then, but nothing could prepare players for the odorous comments from the head of the franchise that forced them Saturday to briefly discuss the unimaginable of boycotting the game Sunday.

Then came the deluge from outside the team of suggested responses, with friends and relatives calling and texting. There was some push to make a moral stand on behalf of something greater than a basketball game. Players had done nothing wrong and felt under siege and ultimately decided to show their disgust by piling some of their sweats at mid-court during pregame warmups, turn their shooting shirts inside out to keep the “Clippers” out of view. They wore black socks, wrist bands and arm bands, even though coach Doc Rivers didn’t like the gesture.

It was about two of the most surreal days, from Friday night when the audio tapes acquired by TMZ became public until Sunday afternoon as the Warriors finished off the 118-97 victory to even the first-round series at 2-2, in NBA history. Unless there have been many other times when the president of the United States was standing next to the prime minister of Malaysia during a press conference in Malaysia and pivoting from answering a question on Russia-Ukraine right into one about the owner of a basketball team an ocean away.

“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t do really have to do anything,” Obama said. “You just let them talk.” And: “I have confidence that the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, a good man, will address this.”

There certainly wasn’t any refuge on the court. The Warriors, even with coach Mark Jackson saying his team had been distracted by the unprecedented situation, were sharper and more aggressive. Stephen Curry made five of seven 3-pointers in the first quarter, Golden State built a 20-point lead in the period, David Lee delivered on his promise to step up, and the lineup change Jackson said Friday he was considering became a small-ball spark of Draymond Green at power forward and Lee at center in place of Jermaine O’Neal.

“They did the things that we wanted to do,” Griffin said.

In the moment, it was a bad afternoon and a historically bad couple days, with the Clippers looking like a team drained of its passion and the play of the Warriors doing more to determine the outcome of Game 4 than the words of Sterling. In the big picture, though, in the long-term thinking of a team rightly thinking about playing in June, Sunday made it clear that getting through this is going to take time. Maybe even a lot of time, if they have that much left on the basketball calendar.

“I don’t know,” Rivers said when asked about an emotional timetable. “We’re going home now. Usually that would mean we’re going to our safe haven, and I don’t even know if that’s true, to be honest. But I know I can get to them and I know they want to do right. And like I told them, the game’s on me. My fault. It’s my job. I gotta do a better job getting these guys ready to play basketball. And if it’s because of the other thing, it’s still my fault. It really is. I’m the coach and my job is to get my players ready to play. And I didn’t do my job.”

This is unchartered desert for experienced coaches too. No group has ever gone through this, during a 2-1 playoff series that just became 2-2, with hiding the name of their own team during warmups, amid proposals they stage a sit-in Sunday or that L.A. fans boycott Tuesday at home. Maybe as Air Force One passes overhead.

Surreal, all right. And worse yet for the Clippers, far from over. There are still the distractions ahead in Game 5, possibly with fans showing their displeasure toward Sterling by wearing black, and the punishment that is expected to be handed down within days, all in a 2-2 series against an underdog that has already won at Staples Center. Getting through this is just getting started.


VIDEO: Doc Rivers talks about the Clippers’ Game 4 loss

44 Comments

  1. anthy14 says:

    The Clippers are acting as if this is the first time they heard that sterling is a bigot and worse, they act as if they’ve never heard a racist remark in their life. If anyone of them could look at themselves with absolute confidence that THEY HAVE NEVER SAID OR HAD A THOUGHT OF A RACIST REMARK IN THEIR LIFE…then they can judge Sterling. Odds are, not one of them can. WHY? Because no one can. Just because you may not say it doesn’t mean that you aren’t racist. it’s what’s in your heart that counts. Play the damn game you are paid millions and millions of dollars to play and let due diligence by the NBA take its course. Turning your shirts around, wearing black socks, running backward the entire game, etc. is not going to stop racism so deal with it. Sterling should be suspended for a long time…a very long time because of who he is and what he said. meanwhile, you have Sir Charles Barkley bashing Sterling as if he is some purist Saint. He sits there and says, “these rich WHITE guys are making millions off the sweat of young African Americans”. Rich WHITE guys!! Is that a racist remark? It sure as heck is. Where would any of these athletes today be if it weren’t for the rich guys…regardless of their color. The whole thing disgusts me. So NOTE to the Clippers….show Sterling who the Boss is…..go out and win the NBA Championship! Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but names should never harm you!

  2. PJ says:

    I suggest that they play streetball instead of staples center. Thats a good way to protest, at the same time the fans could support the team without paying for tickets that support sterling.

  3. Matt says:

    I guess the claim that you are innocent until proven guilty is incorrect. In this case, it’s guilty until proven innocent. Our society is sad, really sad, with the way it obsesses over race. For the record, the NBA can’t do anything against him without a huge lawsuit, since he never actually committed a crime. If you want to go after someone, go after the girl for taping him against his will. There is no privacy today, Big Brother is watching.

  4. c man says:

    I suspect the players felt betrayed and disrespected by their own team family ==probably felt used and and even foolish for believing all their efforts had a higher purpose – well they have a traitor in the building – but they must now play for themselves and for their great fans who believe in them that is a cause that is better than the traitor clown who is a social caveman. lets all hope the outcome is just for all. may the best team win.

  5. justsayin says:

    If the Clippers really want to hold Sterling’s feet to the fire they should play to get to the finals. It will draw attention and ensure the league cannot sweep his actions under the rug yet again. And if the league fails in that – they could reconsider boycotting when they reach the Finals. The NBAs hand would be forced – to ditch him – at that point. The league cant afford to cancel the championship!

    Oh gd- now I’ve just guaranteed the refs will never let them get there. They already seemed a little biased in game 4 – now they’ll get the okc vs mia treatment.

  6. Patty says:

    THE CLIPPER’S PLAYERS AND THE COACH NEED TO STAND TOGETHER AGANIST THIS RACIST OWNER.

  7. Nick says:

    Wow! I guess one is guilty until proven innocent these days? Everyone is correctly saying “allegations”, “purported”, “alleged”, yet in the same sentence spewing their own hate and condemnation, and calling for Sterling’s head! Even the President, who should definitely know better! I only hope none of you are treated with the same yardstick should you are ever accused of something terrible…

    • Laker Fan says:

      I agree 100%. But I am curious why he hasn’t said it was fake. Obviously we are only interested in whether it was him or not, why not let us know it’s fake so we can move on?

    • Game Time says:

      He has a history of discrimination law suites. This was just solid proof of what people didn’t want to believe, and also he hasn’t even stepped out to try and discredit the girl.

  8. Game Time says:

    There are those saying he shouldn’t be removed because the tape was illegal. Fact is there are a lot of closet racist like Sterling that don’t like how he was exposed because they fear it could happen to them. I think if you really feel that way about other races you would do everything possible to not be around those people. Yet he bought a basketball team. He dated a black woman, and he continues to profit off it. So the fact that someone who he choose to be in a relationship with exposed him is his OWN fault. Had he been faithful to his wife, invested in some other industry he could have happily disliked black people without anyone knowing or caring. Also who was going to believe this girl if she came out accusing him without evidence? As I recall this type of thing has happened many times and though the evidence is not admissible should this go to court, it is still relevant to investigations. Stop being mad that narrow minded views are no longer widely accepted.

  9. MJ3 says:

    If the Clippers are not going to play the game they’re paid to play, then just stay home and cry like babies. It’s unfair to the fans who paid for those over- priced tickets to have to watch them mope on the court. Everyone within the NBA with a brain including Uncle Tom ‘Houseboy’ Doc Rivers knew what kind of person Sterling was before he cashed his first paycheck. Stop insulting the NBA fans intelligence. The Play-offs are tarnished now and the entire NBA looks like a joke. I’ve been a fan for over thirty years and refuse to watch another game. Until Kobe comes back of course.

    • Laker Fan says:

      That’s ridiculous. Your just a Kobe loving clipper hater. The Rockets wore the same black socks that the Clippers wore. They played their butts off and said they were not distracted at all, they simply lost.

    • Game Time says:

      Well the fans that paid for those Tickets were vast majority GSW ones, so I’d say they got their moneys worth with their team winning. No if the Clippers go home and decided to drag their feelings out I think it would be unprofessional on their part. One game to vent, then back to business is the way I see it.

  10. marlon green says:

    The Clippers need to make a stand by not playing, plain and simple. We all take losses my making a stand, thats the whole point of doing it. And if a NBA title thats not even guaranteed is the price for standing up for whats right then so be it. WAKE UP PEOPLE this is just a sport what is at hand is history in life that needs to be made. This situation is more important than a game. We claim that we are united and that is what’s so great about America so here’s there chance to prove it. And yes I have taken losses and made stands at school and at work so I’m talking from experiance. Fans should not pay for anymore tickets and players shouldn’t play. Because without the fan and the players there is not clippers and therefore NO MONEY TO BE MADE. MLK gave his life to fight against type of stuff, so the players cant sacrafice a championship chance are you serious?

    • Laker Fan says:

      MLK would tell them to play. He gave his life so they could play, not give up their and his dream for a slave driver. And they can’t lose by forfeiting, if the game wasn’t played it would simply be postponed. And what about TMZ, they literally paid big bucks to his girlfriend! She already took millions from him and even ESPN paid for the video. All of these places and media outlets are profiting off of him. He wins no matter what you do!

      • marlon green says:

        You seriously think MLK I tell them to play? I DONT THINK SO! He would tell them to stand up like men and fight for what the believe in. And if trying to win a championship is more important human rights to them we shall see. Malcolm X sure wouldn’t have gone for that just like Muhammad Ali protested about not going to war. And please dont mention another thing about someone profitting off of Sterling. That was just a joke, after all the money he’s profitted off of mostly black people, the same people he doesn’t like or want to be around. Who cares what people make off him! And to you people on hear whining about him being guilty before proven innocent, welcome to the life of minorities. You fans stop being so selfish! It’s not about YOU. Who cares about you waiting to see this team win and who cares about the prices you pay to watch them play. NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO PAY TO SEE THEM. And the minute one of the players decide to play elsewhere you are going to hate them.

  11. Gary says:

    As a frustrated fan I have decided to still support my team. The whole ordeal is unfair to everyone, but I think we should all put our personal feelings aside to support our team and just wait for the NBA to take action. Sterling wins in this no matter what the outcome is, but why should we give him even more enjoyment seeing the frustration that he’s bringing to everyone? Personally, I think the Clippers vented last game and if they want to ever really win a championship this is the perfect time to forge themselves and show what they are really made of. It would be an epic and historical thing for them to battle through this, and heck maybe even make the WCF. Yes that’s all lollypop dreaming, but great things have happen in sports when you least expect them too.

  12. theholyspectator says:

    its gotta be frustrating but this isnt the reason why they lost…it shouldnt be…if they are that hungry to win a title, NO DISTRACTIONS should enter the mind..

    • Gary says:

      Well put!

    • educatedron says:

      Its tough knowiing that if you win, your owner will get weathier at your expense. knowing that he would prefer your family stays home since they are black. Basically says blacks are ok to have sex with and meet with privately, but don’t let the “public see it” He was seen with her at a game or two.

      His wife though she was scorned and tried to sue her for 1.8 million dollars I know is wishing she wouldn’t of filed that case.

      Girlfriend wins. But bottom line is he bought clippers for around 20 million, worth 700million now, So if forced to sell he just made 680million dollars. But at 80 years old, his years on earth may be just a few so what does 680million buy him if he is an outcast.

      The players boycotting is cutting off their nose because they are upset at their face. Its a lose lose, The question to be honest is what would Mahammed Ali or Jim do? Those two guys get Jackie Robinson type of respect and still alive.

      I think you almost have to not play. But then a part of me says, you gotta be professional and play for the fans. Just glad that it isn’t my decision. Its lose-lose and win-win no matter what you do. The olive branch protest was absolutely zero. It just let the public know they were aware of it also. Tough week for NBA and society. Racism has showed its naked face again.

  13. KDfan says:

    Few humble comments:
    1. Keep the POTUS and Politics out of this please, especially on the NBA website, it is inappropriate.
    2. Let the investigation decide what is correct and then the NBA committee dish out the penalty.
    3. Personally, I think, the LAC players took it upon themselves (when the onus is on Sterling) too much and unnecessarily. This caused them to have a setback. Sterling should have realized that this was going to impact his team and reacted preemptively and take steps to prevent that. He is the owner, it is his team, but I don’t see the responsibility. This act by itself makes him an UNWORTHY OWNER.

    • Common Sense says:

      He saw it coming but he’s not a Clipper fan so he didn’t care…it’s really just too bad

  14. vinsanefan says:

    @ Carlos. A disgustingly racsist fool of an owner got caught running his mouth. The Clippers players and fans shouldn’t be the ones who suffer the penalty by not playing. Let the NBA take care of this issue. Hopefully they can find a way to force Sterling out of being an owner, and the Clippers just need to keep playing and show the world that they’re stronger than the bigotry of their owner.

  15. cp10 says:

    I think the Clippers should’ve played to win rather than throw the game, but that’s just my opinion. Besides, with the Clippers dealing with their distraction, GSW can prevail and my prediction from months ago can come to fruition: Pacers vs GSW 2014 Finals.

  16. Common Sense says:

    ONE TEAM. ONE GOAL. FOR US. IT’S TIME.
    We Sign Our Own Paychecks. The fans and the players have been waiting for this for a long time, not Sterling. Los Angeles is the most diverse city in the country, we’re behind you one hundred percent of the way! Be proud to put on the jersey that says LOS ANGELES, because in this diverse city HE IS A MINORITY!!!!!!!!!
    NO MAN CAN TAKE THIS FROM US, LET’S RISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Aaron says:

    I think the NBA should put the same sanctions on Mr. Sterling as MLB did with Marge Schott many years ago. And then have the Clippers sold to somebody who knows how to run a team, even on frugal budget (ala Oakland A’s). If they want to keep them in the Southern California market, have them play in Anaheim or return them back to San Diego.

  18. Matt says:

    It was holocaust day here in Israel, and as a jew I’m just horrified that another jew can use these kind of remarks after all the horrible racist events our people have been through.
    He certainly doesn’t represent our people and I hope he won’t be part of the NBA anymore.

  19. 0205jordansa says:

    Reblogged this on cool not rude and commented:
    Stephan Curry is by the way my favorite player of the year.

  20. DisappointedFANS says:

    The players cant boycott but I can!

    • Common Sense says:

      BOYCOTT WHAT???????If you actually are a Clipper fan what are you boycotting? Sterling has never cared about the Clippers. Every game he was ever on the sidelines he made fun of them and practically cheered for the other teams. If you want to boycott Sterling, put on a Clipper Jersey, and cheer them on! If you want to give in to the racism then boycott. It’s like Obama said, let ignorant people be ignorant and preach tolerance. Clippers need to say they are going to WIN the RING for US and not for Sterling! And then go DESTROY THE WARRIORS!PERIOD!

  21. celentano says:

    warriors in 7 games !
    wanna bet!

  22. Dhel says:

    You can tell its a big distraction to the team. Just look at their body language, you can see it in their eyes,it’s not the same team that played the warriors the past 3 games. It’s just sad the players have to suffer because of this idiot! They worked so hard to get to this point.

  23. jake s. says:

    @ carlos… Are they really supposed to put their life’s aspirations on hold because of an old white guys racist comments? The whole world agrees that the Clippers owner needs to be punished. I think you are trying to make it into a bigger deal than it is.

  24. okc2014 says:

    I don’t think the Clippers lost because of the distraction. They lost because The Golden Flake Warriors won. Let’s not make this more than it actually is. It has already been reported that this guy has a history of discrimination and unfair treatment towards minorities in the community. So, don’t even know why the NAACP was getting ready to reward him w/ a lifetime achievement. If the Clippers have decided they will move forward, not boycott, not discuss it publically, etc and keep playing, then they should do so and let the NBA handle. Just my own opinion.

    • sonofabbas says:

      It’s easy to tell someone else to boycott or miss a pay check

    • basketball e says:

      The Clippers are the better team in this series as much as I like the Warriors and want them to win this series. I watched the whole game and the Clippers did not look like the same team. I’m not saying they would’ve won without the distraction, but this had to have affected them personally and possibly carried on to their game on the floor.

      About that award.. the NAACP was getting ready to award Sterling a lifetime achievement award for his “kindness with the youth minority” in L.A. Once they heard these allegations however, they decided not to award him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. You can maybe try to convince yourself that the discrimination and unfair treatment were business decisions, but after hearing the whole tape you can clearly see how Sterling feels about minorities.

      I also believe that the Clippers are trying to let the NBA handle it, and that is why they have not come out publicly(except for their silent protest), but when your boss talks about your people it’s a little hard to go out and be fully committed. I could clearly tell their focus was not 100% on the game. Just my opinion as well…

    • Common Sense says:

      They did boycott and wore their jerseys backwards. You have no idea how huge that is in basketball. They were literally ashamed to be a Clipper before starting the game, YOU HAVE NO IDEA, YESTERDAY WAS A SAD DAY IN LA. No CITY is more diverse than us, yet we are being looked at as RACIST and OUR TEAM is ashamed to be, this is completely RIDICULOUS! CLIPPERS do it for US, not HIM!! We pay 10 dollars for a hot dog during your losing seasons because we believe! We endure stupid Laker banter because we have faith. AND WE WEAR OUR CLIPPER JERSEYS WITH PRIDE BECAUSE OF YOU, NOT HIM!!! SO WEAR YOUR JERSEYS WITH PRIDE FOR US, NOT HIM!!!! WE’VE BEEN WAITING WITH MIKE SMITH AND RALPH LAWLER FOR YEARS FOR THIS, HE COULDN’T CARE LESS!!!!AND IF ANYONE SIGNS YOUR PAYCHECKS, IT’S US, YOUR LOYAL, LOVING, DIVERSE FAN GROUP, THAT DESPISES EVERYTHING ON THAT PHONE CALL! ONE TEAM, ONE GOAL, FOR US, IT’S TIME!

  25. Carlos Martin says:

    How could anyone still play a game of basketball? Playoffs? Playoffs? Most wealthy or 1%, blue bloodlines or King’ s look at most minorities as no more than jesters in the Kings court. Despite being racially humiliated in front of the world they still got on the court and entertained the King at the end of the day. The pre game warm up was no more than a child having a temper tantrum! When did a NBA CHAMPION SHIP RING come before the respect of the Human race. The sad reality is we all see how beautiful a rainbow can be because of the diversity of colors, but is mankind kryptonite trying to make one color better than the next. It’s great LeBron James and other players said something, but action speak louder than words because they still got on the court and entertain the real king which the owners of the league. I guess this is the sacrifice for fame or a NBA check is worth. I guess everyone else does have a price!

    • Carlos Martin says:

      This was Carlos Martin reporting from YouTube News. Back to you world!

    • chalice says:

      To Carlos,

      I don’t think you’re looking at this the right way and may be talking out of anger and emotion now. The players are playing for themselves as well as the many fans of the game who want to enjoy basketball at the end of a hard work week. Racism is alive and well, throughout the whole wolrd and across all races. If you were top boycott all products from racist owners you’d end up not having anything at all. I don’t know the right way to do things but boycotting and not playing would , I think, do more harm than good.