Donald Sterling Rumors
It was the morning of Game 5 of the Warriors’ 2014 first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Four days earlier, TMZ had published voice recordings of then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist statements to his mistress, V. Stiviano, throwing the NBA into a tailspin. When Myers called his boss with a status report, he told him in no uncertain terms, “‘These guys are going to walk off the floor,'” Welts recalled. “He was with the team that morning and said the vibe around the team — maybe both teams — was that if this doesn’t go the way the players want it to go that they could walk out on the floor and then walk right off and not play the game that night,” Welts said.
Silver was less than 90 days into the job, and he had a full-fledged crisis on his hands. The players were on the verge of shutting down the league in protest. And the threat was far more credible than anyone knew at the time. “I was all-in. Like shut down the whole season,” then-Warriors forward Andre Iguodala said. “Maybe that was too far, but as far as that game that day, you can reschedule it, you gotta sort this thing out, because there’s some deep-rooted stuff with him that had to be addressed.”
And if the Clippers and Warriors boycotted one game, what would happen to the rest of the playoffs? “If we didn’t play the first game,” Crawford said, “I don’t think we would’ve played any games, to be honest with you. I think that just would’ve been that, until something happened.”
The comparison you make that really brought Sterling into focus is when it’s said that he’s kind of a West Coast Donald Trump. Ramona Shelburne: He wanted that. He loved that comparison. The thing that got me really interested in the Sterling story was the dynamic between Donald and Shelly, but the more I reported it, the more I was like, Man, Donald Sterling has what should have been a classic rags to riches story. He is the son of immigrants who moved to East L.A. And he’s a junk peddler, and he’s always at the market until 2 a.m., and he puts himself through school. And I remember talking to his publicist and I said, “Why didn’t you convince him to tell that story? That’s a likable story.” Like, he should have owned that rags to riches story. And instead, he wants you to make him the West Coast Donald.
Arash Markazi: 30 for 30 Podcasts will release a series on Donald Sterling and the Clippers, “The Sterling Affairs,” which is reported and hosted by @ramonashelburne . I can’t recommend it enough as someone who was covering the team and the trial at the time. It’s five parts and debuts Aug. 20.
“They made their pitch to Kobe and it was a very strong one because it seemed apparent to everyone at that point that Kobe and Shaq just could no longer co-exist,” Lawler said. “Then it’s time for Kobe to excuse himself and go and Donald Sterling walks him to the door expressing concern. ‘Is this really going to happen?’ “Kobe turned to him and — this is an exact quote that I’ve had repeated to me by multiple people — he said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m a Clipper.’ So he walked out the door and [the Clippers] are all high-fiving each other thinking, ‘By God, we’ve done it.’ “If anybody denies any of that,” Lawler added, “ they are of faulty memory or they just don’t want to acknowledge it because that is what happened in that meeting in that hotel room.”
It is a way different dynamic from what Rivers had with the team’s previous owner, Donald Sterling. Rivers told The Undefeated he has not spoken to his old boss since TMZ released audio on April 26, 2014, of Sterling making racist comments to his then-girlfriend. “There is no need to,” Rivers said. “I don’t know why or what he was thinking or whatever. … It doesn’t matter to me. It’s already been done and said. I haven’t heard from him. It’s not like I am mad. But why? We don’t need to talk.”