Outside Staples Center on Tuesday evening, Sam and Susan Wright of Diamond Bar carried signs declaring their support for the Clippers after owner Donald Sterling was banned for life by the NBA commissioner.
"Dear NBA owners," the signs read. "Must have new owner! VOTE FOR SALE!"
"We support the Clippers, but we do not support the owner," Susan Wright said.
The couple, who are black, said the racially charged remarks attributed to Sterling had an impact far beyond the team.
"This is not just a sports issue," Sam Wright said. "This is a national issue."
Though the couple said they were pleased by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's decision to ban Sterling for life, they said the other owners in the league needed to vote him out.
"This is just the beginning," Sam Wright said. "This guy has got to go."
The Wrights contemplated not going to Tuesday's game but ultimately decided to attend after Silver announced his decision. But they were still undecided about whether to buy tickets for next season.
"We're in the process. But it depends on what happens here," Susan Wright said, tapping her sign.
By 6 p.m., 1 1/2 hours before tipoff, the area around Staples Center was lightly trafficked, much like a regular game day save for the extra police presence.
Mark Ebner, 54, didn't stray from his normal routine of showing up early for some pregame caffeine. The author from Los Feliz came clad in a red shirt he'd received earlier in the playoffs, with one extra accessory: a black armband around his right biceps, similar to the look some Clippers players sported in Game 4.
"This is something most Clippers fans have known about for a long time," Ebner said of the team's owner.
The season-ticket holder added he had never considered skipping the game.
"I support the team. We don't even care about Don Sterling," he said. "No one looked at his courtside seat to see what he's up to."
Game-day attire consisted mostly of red Clippers gear, some turned inside out to mimic another look the Clippers sported in protest Sunday, and black shirts, which some suggested on social media as a sign of solidarity with the team.
A small group crowded around a radio broadcast booth to listen to the pregame press conference of Clippers Coach Doc Rivers, his first comments since the punishment was meted out.
Two days earlier, Rivers openly questioned whether returning home would really help the Clippers.
"I think this will be a safe haven tonight," Rivers said, to the applause of the crowd who was listening to every word.
Earlier Tuesday, about 100 protesters gathered outside Staples Center to celebrate the NBA decision.
Later, they marched from their post at Figueroa and 12th streets to the entrance of Staples Center carrying signs and shouting:"Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Donald Sterling has got to go!"
After the commissioner's ruling was handed down, the Staples Center crowd decided to turn the gathering into a victory rally. Community activist Najee Ali said that although the punishment seemed fair and swift, the group cannot lose sight of the fact that Sterling still owns the Clippers.
"We have to keep applying pressure on the whole process," Ali said. "As an activist, we never let up until we get complete victory. The fight is not over until the team is sold."
On the way to the game, Kathy Kusner, 74, and George Myers, 73, wore matching black shirts that had the Clippers logo with "Clip Him" written across the front.
The back of the shirts had a "-1" under Sterling's name. The couple praised Silver for taking the unprecedented step of banning Sterling.
"There is a chance that this can change more than just with the Clippers," Kusner said. "This could be a nice big step in how we think about race and equality."
Husband and wife Jonathan and Brittany Brandon said Tuesday's game was their first NBA game. The Clippers fans bought their playoff tickets before the Sterling news broke.
"We said, 'What do we do?' We decided we would take a stand," Brittany Brandon, 25, said. "There's no room for racism."
The Bakersfield couple said they were there Tuesday to support the players. They held two signs as they waited outside Staples Center, one that read "ONE TEAM ONE GOAL," the other "MAGIC 4 OWNER."
Magic Johnson becoming the team's owner would be "great vindication," Brittany Brandon said, considering that the remarks attributed to Sterling came after Stiviano posted a picture of the NBA legend on Instagram.
"Who better to run it?" she said. "He's the face of L.A.," Johnathan Brandon added.
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