Alleged racist remarks by Clippers owner Sterling spark uproar
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling stands on the sidelines before a game on May 5, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California - by Stephen Dunn
The uproar began when TMZ's website provided audio it claimed came from an April 9 argument between Sterling and his girlfriend, identified only as V. Stiviano, with Sterling upset she posted a photograph with Johnson on Instagram.
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling allegedly said.
"You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in. You can do whatever you want. The little I ask is not to promote it on that ... and not to bring them to my games.
"In your lousy ... Instagrams you don't have to have yourself walking with black people."
The NBA has started an investigation into the remarks, league spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement.
"We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by TMZ," Bass said. "The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is expected to comment on the matter later Saturday.
The Clippers lead the Golden State Warriors two games to one in a best-of-seven first-round playoff series that continues Sunday.
Johnson, a legend for the Los Angeles Lakers in his playing days, reacted on Twitter vowing that he and his wife Cookie would never attend another Clippers game.
"TMZ reported this morning that Clippers owner Donald Sterling doesn't want me or other African-Americans to come to Clippers games," Johnson posted on Twitter.
"Cookie and I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.
"I feel sorry for my friends Coach Doc Rivers and Chris Paul that they have to work for a man that feels that way about African Americans.
"LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA."
- Jackson urges boycott -
Sterling, who has owned the Clippers since 1981, has had such feelings for a long time, according to a tweet from former Clipper standout Baron Davis.
"That's the way it is...He is honest about what he believes in..Been going on for a long time, Hats off 2 the Team.. 4 playin above it all," Davis wrote.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star James Worthy tweeted that "it would be hard for me to play another game for Sterling."
The Clippers have not gone past the first round of the playoffs under Sterling.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson, an outspoken African-American leader and former US Presidential candidate, called for fans to boycott Clippers' games starting immediately. The Clippers will play host to Golden State in game five of their series on Tuesday.
"If we are just going from picking cotton balls to picking basketballs, then we are not making progress. It's about dignity," Jackson told ESPN.
"What will the players do? If blacks are not welcome, then players' family members are not welcome. If family members of players are not welcome, then the players are not welcome either.
"Blacks should not go to his games and whites who view blacks as equals should not go to his games."
Jackson called for action to be taken by the league before the weekend was over.
"This kind of degredation must be halted and there must be a radical deterrent," Jackson said.
Sterling was fined $2.7 million in 2009 by the US Justice Department to settle allegations he discriminated against African-Americans, Hispanics and families with children at Los Angeles apartment buildings he controls.
In 2011, Sterling won a lawsuit filed by former Clipper general manager Elgin Baylor, who accused the club of firing him based upon his age.