Clippers fans denounce Donald Sterling’s alleged racial remarks

Clippers players wearing black socks in a gesture of solidarity Sunday before Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

OAKLAND -- Clippers fans entering the Oracle Arena in Oakland before their team’s playoff game Sunday against the Golden State Warriors denounced the racial remarks attributed to Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling and called for a public apology.

Some L.A. fans said they did not wear their Clippers gear for fear of inciting animosity. One woman in a Clippers jersey carried a sign denouncing Sterling.

A Warriors fan in blue and gold shouted to a Clippers’ fan in red: “You guys need a new owner!”

“You need a new haircut!” retorted the Clippers’ fan.


Full coverage: The Donald Sterling controversy

Jillian Fencher, 28, a teacher, drove from Fullerton with her father, Tom Fencher, 59, to root for the Clippers.

They said they decided at the last minute not to wear their red jerseys.

“I don’t think Sterling should be allowed to be an owner of a basketball team if what he said is true,” Tom Fencher, a businessman, said.

“He’s a jerk,” Jillian Fencher said. “But I love the Clippers.”

Both father and daughter said they felt badly for the players and the distraction the controversy over Sterling’s alleged racist rant caught on an audio recording has stirred.

Nancy Rhoden, 60, a race track worker, carried a sign saying: “Shame Sterling.” Under a heart, she added “Doc Clipps.”

“I support the team, not his remarks,” Rhoden said. “They were horrendous.”

She said she wanted to “make it clear” to others that her affection for the team did not extend to its owner. “I support the team, not his remarks,” she said.

Ryan Tyiska, 39, clad in a Clippers sweatshirt, said Sterling’s reported remarks could not have come at a worse time for the team.

The African American city worker from Los Angeles said he has been attending Clippers games since college. “It’s like a black eye,” he said. “Everything is starting to go well and then you get blindsided by this. It’s despicable.”

He said the team’s black players are professionals who undoubtedly have experienced racism in the past.

“They’ve been dealing with this their whole lives, unfortunately,” Tyiska said. “Ultimately it’s about the fan base.”

Francisco Rodriguez, 29, an electrician and Clippers fan, said Sterling should apologize. “I would hope that it won’t affect team morale,” he said.

Jordan, 27, a student wearing a Clippers’ jersey, said anyone who has followed Sterling would not have been surprised by the recording.

“But we are more focused on winning the game,” said Jordan, who declined to give his last name. “The team has a job to do. They can’t get distracted by something the owner did.”

A man in blue and yellow Warriors’ gear shouted: “You guys need a new owner.”

“You need a new haircut,” Jordan shouted back.

Dave Kang, 34, a Clippers fan, said the situation was “really messed up.”

“A lot of the players and the fans are African Americans,” he said. “He is the owner and the Clippers’ representative. I hope the players are not discouraged by this and play hard to show him what they have and who they are.”

Kang, a commodities exporter, flew up from L.A. for the game. He said Sterling should issue a public apology at a news conference. “He’s the owner,” Kang said. “I am rooting for the players.”

Olivia Escobar, 24, wearing a knit Clippers beanie, said Sterling’s alleged remarks might make the Warriors’ more aggressive.

“I am not rooting for the owner,” she said. “I am rooting for the team.”

Oscar Cole, 28, said he hesitated “momentarily” before putting on his red Clippers shirt. He said he wanted to support the Clippers but not the team’s owner.

“I don’t know how people can say that stuff at this point in time,” Cole said. “It is appalling if true. I prefer to focus on the team’s achievements.” He said the owner’s comments should not reflect on the teams or the fans. “They have worked too long and too hard this season to give up now.”

Cameron Clark, 15, wearing a Clippers jersey, said his friends were harassing him for it. “It’s bad,” Cole said. “I wish he didn’t say that. I represent the players, not the owner.”

Geoff Yates, 57, who had tickets to the game, said he had long admired the Clippers but would probably root for the Warriors.

“It’s about the players,” Yates said. “Unfortunately I think the owner’s comments must be on their minds today.”

“I like the players, but it really affects me as a fan,” he said. “I just want to enjoy the game. I am a good sports fan and the Clippers have great players.“


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