A huge racism scandal has blown up in American sport that’s so big, even President Obama has got involved.
Barack Obama said that comments reported to have been made by the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team were "incredibly offensive racist statements," and the scandal shows no sign of slowing down.
The NBA is still investigating an audio recording posted online of Clippers owner Donald Sterling allegedly telling his girlfriend not to post photographs of herself with black people and not to bring African-Americans to Clippers games.
"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk," Obama said when asked about the controversy.
He said the recording was also an example of how the United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race.
Celebrity news site TMZ.com published the 10-minute recording on its website late on Friday, describing it as a taped conversation between the billionaire Sterling and a model who goes by the name V. Stiviano.
"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," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Saturday night.
The recording was sharply criticised by civil rights leaders, fans and players. It was not immediately clear when and how the conversation was recorded.
One such criticism that went viral came from celebrated rapper Snoop Dogg who published the below statement on his Instagram account.
*WARNING – EXTREME PROFANITY – DO NOT WATCH IF OFFENDED BY BAD LANGUAGE*
On Sunday, the Clippers played their first match since the controversy broke with their team – made up of mainly African-American players and with a black coach in Doc Rivers - holding a silent protest during their playoff game with the Golden State Warriors.
Clippers players circled mid court during pre-game warmups and threw their jackets on the ground which exposed T-shirts which were turned inside-out to hide any reference to the team.
The Clippers lost the match and their best-of-seven series is now tied at 2-2.
Game Five is scheduled for Tuesday in Los Angeles though it is unsure whether Sterling will attend the game. He was asked not to show up in Oakland for Game Four where the Warriors play.
According to media reports, the Clippers' players even considered boycotting that game against the Warriors before settling on the silent protest.
Rivers, one of the NBA's most respected coaches, who only joined the Clippers last summer in a high profile move from the Boston Celtics, says he is unsure if he will stay with the team once the season is finished.
"Don't know yet. I'm just going to leave it at that," he said,
NBA chief Silver, who is only in the job since February since David Stern retired after 20 years as commissioner, promised the league would move swiftly to determine the authenticity of the recording and its context.
Clippers President Andy Roeser issued a statement saying they have listened to the tape on TMZ.
"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," the statement said.
"Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings."
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the oldest civil rights organisation in the United States, had planned to give Sterling a lifetime achievement award at its May 15 banquet. They have now confirmed that they will no longer give him the award.
Sports commentary website Deadspin claimed that Sterling has a history of making racist remarks publishing a piece entitled: "Your Complete Quotable Guide To Decades Of Donald Sterling's Racism."
- Sports & Recreation
- Society & Culture
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Donald Sterling
- President Obama