Doc Rivers says he believes Donald Sterling ‘said those things’

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said Monday that he believes team owner Donald Sterling was the person making racial comments on an audio recording released by TMZ over the weekend. Above, Rivers before Sunday's Clippers game.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Clippers Coach Doc Rivers made it clear Monday what he thought about the racist comments attributed to team owner Donald Sterling.

“Yeah, I believe he said those things,” Rivers said during a conference call with reporters.

A voice reported to be Sterling is heard an audio recording released by TMZ on Friday night telling a friend that he was upset she posted a picture of Instagram of herself next to Lakers legend and Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson. The man said he didn’t want the woman to be associated with black people.


“I just would like to reiterate how disappointed I am in those comments that are attributed to our owner,” Rivers said. “I can’t tell you how upset I am and our players are.”

The NBA said that it would hold a news conference Tuesday about its investigation Sterling and the recorded remarks.

“I think this is a defining moment, but I think we’ll have more defining moments,” Rivers said. “I think this is a very important decision. I hope that it’s a very strong message, and I believe that it will be. But other than that, I’m just going to let the league do what it needs to do. And then after that, I think the players and myself will have a reaction.”

Rivers said he gave his players Monday off with no practice because he wanted them to “breathe” before Game 5 on Tuesday at Staples Center against the Golden State Warriors.

But Rivers said all the players came to the team’s practice facility Monday anyway.

The best-of-seven series is tied at 2-2.

“The reason [for no practice] is for the players. I just felt like they needed to breathe,” Rivers said. “They’ve been inundated with this. They’ve really had no time with their families. I just think they need time.

“Obviously in most cases, we would be practicing on the floor and doing a lot of stuff today. I’m at the facility and I would say all of the players are here anyway. I’ll go down and talk to them and make sure they’re in the right place.”

Rivers was asked what the fans should do at the game Tuesday night.

“I hope whatever the fans do is as one,” Rivers said. “As one group. Just do it and be one. … But I don’t even know if that’s the right thing, but I think it is.”

Twitter: @BA_Turner