This post has been updated, as indicated in the notes below.
A recording said to be of Clippers team owner Donald J. Sterling making racist remarks was met with swift condemnation from Los Angeles city leaders and prompted a call for the city to formally denounce him.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said through a spokesman Saturday that he condemns the “statements and sentiments” attributed to Sterling. Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who represents a portion of South Los Angeles, went further, saying the council should take a formal position denouncing the remarks and demanding action from the NBA.
[Updated at 4:07 p.m. PDT, April 26, 2014: Garcetti issued further remarks: “These statements are offensive and despicable and have no place in Los Angeles. I urge the NBA to act swiftly. L.A. fans deserve and demand better.”]
The NBA said it is conducting an investigation.
Late Friday, TMZ posted an audio recording it said captures Sterling making racist statements in the course of an argument. The Times has not confirmed the authenticity of the tape, and the Clippers have not commented.
[Updated at 3:24 p.m. PDT, April 26, 2014: The Clippers have released a statement in which President Andy Roeser says that the team does not know if the man recorded is Sterling but that the comments do not reflect Sterling’s “views, beliefs or feelings.” Read the full statement: Clippers release statement on racist comments.]A person identified by TMZ as Sterling can be heard in the recording, said to be made this month, telling a female friend, identified as V. Stiviano, that he was upset she posted a picture on her Instagram account of herself next to Lakers legend Magic Johnson.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” the man in the recording says, later adding: “I’m just saying, in your … Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”
“Don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me,” he says. “And don’t bring him to my games.”
The NBA released a statement saying it was conducting a “full investigation” into the recording.
“The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in the statement, “but at this time we have no further information.”
TMZ did not state in its report how it obtained the recording.
The Los Angeles chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People had been scheduled to give Sterling the group’s lifetime achievement award at its May 15 banquet. At that event, the NAACP chapter also planned to give its first “person of the year” awards to Garcetti and the Rev. Al Sharpton, according to the organization’s website.
Parks compared the situation to remarks about black, Jewish and Japanese people made by Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott in the 1990s.
“Statements like this happen way too routinely to view an apology as sufficient,” said Parks, whose district includes a significant number of African American residents. “The league needs to take action, much as they did in the Marge Schott situation in Cincinnati, where they went through multiple suspensions because of her derogatory and racist remarks, and then eventually forced her to sell her franchise.”
Council President Herb Wesson wasn’t prepared to say how the City Council should respond, saying that the NBA should be allowed to complete its investigation.
“In the event that this is his voice, and those are his words, disciplinary action should take place,” he said. “A player gets fined if he says something that’s inappropriate, and I think you should hold the owners to the same standard.”
Wesson, the council’s first black president, described professional basketball is a “sport significantly influenced by African Americans.”
This incident offers other lessons for the public, Wesson said. “It seems like stupid things occur when old, old men mess around with young, young women.”
Magic Johnson tweeted that he and his wife would never go to a Clippers game again as long as Sterling owned the team.
“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,” Johnson tweeted. “LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA.”