Clippers and Coach Doc Rivers can't sidestep the Sterling stuff

Clippers and Coach Doc Rivers can't sidestep the Sterling stuff
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers would rather discuss his team and basketball than another chapter in the Donald Sterling scandal. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The "stuff" and "mess" Clippers Coach Doc Rivers was forced to continue to comment on Thursday revolved around disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his wife, Shelly.

Rivers wanted to talk about how his Clippers are tied 1-1 with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series and how L.A. was preparing for Game 3 Friday night at Staples Center.

He wanted to talk about how they need to contain Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

He wanted to talk about how proud he was of Jamal Crawford being named the NBA's sixth man of the year.

Instead, Rivers spent about half of his almost 15-minute interview with the media talking about the Sterlings.

"We keep getting stuff daily about this stuff and I don't think clearly it's going away any time soon," Rivers said.

That "stuff" is NBA Commissioner Adam Silver having banned Donald Sterling for life and forcing him to sell the team because of his comments about blacks.

It's club President Andy Roeser taking an indefinite leave of absence.


It's Shelly Sterling saying that she wants to keep the team, and whether she will attend Game 3.

In Rivers' eyes, he believes this is "100%" not his mess.

"This is the team I'm on," Rivers said. "This is the team I want to be with. We have a chance to build something special here. We're in the middle a of playoff series and then we're in the middle of a mess at the same time. And at the end of the day, we have to win in the playoffs and we have to clean out the mess. You have to do both, and I'm fine with that.

"That's the other thing. I have no problem with it. I'd rather not. But you can't worry about it."

All of the Clippers attended the news conference to watch Crawford pick up his trophy, but none of them talked to the media.

That has become a common theme since the Sterling saga began.

"I thought they needed to focus on basketball," Rivers said. "And if my focus was broken — and it was on basketball — but if it was, I thought we still had a chance to win. But if their focus was broken, then we had no chance to win. And that was the choice I made."

When it was time to talk about Crawford winning the sixth man of the year, Rivers enjoyed talking about that much more.

Crawford averaged 18.6 points a game during the regular season, third-best on the team.

"He's a lethal scorer and we wanted him to continue to do that and he did that," Rivers said. "But he adds more value when he does other things and I think that's what makes him so good."

Crawford won the award for the second time in his 14-year career, making him the fourth player to win the award twice. He also won the award with the Atlanta Hawks in 2010.

Crawford, 34, was the oldest player to win the award.

"I didn't even think about winning a second one," Crawford said. "So this one is even more special."