OAKLAND -- In a potentially ominous sign for the Clippers, Coach Doc Rivers acknowledged Sunday he wasn’t sure about his future with the organization in the wake of racial remarks attributed to owner Donald Sterling.
Asked if there were things he needed to hear and see from Sterling or others within the organization to want to continue working for the Clippers, Rivers said, “Don’t know yet. I’m just going to leave it at that.”
Lakers star Kobe Bryant and Golden State Warriors Coach Mark Jackson were among those who have said they could not play for Sterling in the wake of an audio recording released by TMZ that purports to contain Sterling telling a female friend that he was upset she posted a picture on her Instagram account of herself next to Lakers legend Magic Johnson and didn’t want her to bring him to Clippers games.
Rivers said he had not spoken with Sterling since the comments became public late Friday night and did not feel the need to right now.
The coach said he felt “awful” for his players because “this is not what they signed on for.”
“Our guys, they have family,” Rivers said. “They have friends. And they have cellphones. And I can’t imagine how much they’ve been pulled on and talked to, and what you should do and what you shouldn’t do and what you should say. And that’s abnormal to a normal playoff game.
“Usually they’ll be telling you [that] you should get more shots. Doc’s a terrible coach. He’s not playing you enough. Things like that. And now we’re talking about other stuff.”
Rivers acknowledged he wasn’t sure what to expect from his team in Game 4 at Oracle Arena.
“We could come out and be great,” he said. “We could come out and start out great, run out of gas emotionally. I just don’t know any of that. Honestly, the latter is my fear, that emotionally we can get through the beginning of the game but do we have enough in the tank?”
Asked what his reaction would be if Clippers fans boycotted games at Staples Center, Rivers said, “I would understand. I hope not. We need them. … We play for them. We always have. So we do need them. We’re going to need them back on Tuesday” for Game 5.
Rivers said he didn’t want the controversy to fade quickly because it could shed more light on an important topic.
“You should never run from it; you should confront it and try to do your best to handle it,” Rivers said. “I think we are doing our best right now in this case by trying to do that. How long it needs to stay front and center, I don’t know. Let’s say until there is none. You know? Maybe that’s how long.”