Clippers Coach Doc Rivers sympathizes with Donald Sterling’s wife

Rochelle "Shelly" Sterling, center, was at Oracle Arena on Sunday to watch the Clippers-Warriors game. She also attended Tuesday's game at Staples Center.
(Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

One Clippers fan was surrounded by bodyguards as she arrived and departed Staples Center for Tuesday’s game.

It was Rochelle “Shelly” Sterling, the wife of Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

She called Coach Doc Rivers ahead of time and asked if she could attend the team’s playoff game against Golden State the same day her husband was handed a lifetime NBA ban by league Commissioner Adam Silver.

“It’s a tough one for Shelly,” Rivers said. “She didn’t do anything wrong ... you have compassion for her.


“You keep hearing about the girlfriend, and Shelly’s the wife, you know what I mean? I talked to her today and she’s been through as much as anyone as well. She asked if she could come, which I thought was a very nice gesture. She told me to tell [the players] that she loved them.”

Donald Sterling was barred from attending NBA games and practices, as well as making business and player-personnel decisions in the league after a racially charged audio recording surfaced last weekend. NBA officials said it was Donald Sterling on the recording, disparaging African Americans while arguing with his female friend, V. Stiviano.

Shelly tried to distance herself from her husband’s incendiary comments by releasing a disapproving statement Sunday but was seen at dinner with him Monday night. She and her husband agreed to pay $2.625 million in 2009 to settle a lawsuit brought against them for discriminatory practices toward former tenants at their residential complexes.

Rivers was skeptical that Shelly Sterling could take over as the Clippers owner.

“It doesn’t sound like it to be honest, and I think she knows that, but she still wanted to be here,” Rivers said after the Clippers’ 113-103 victory Tuesday.

The NBA commissioner could not force Donald Sterling to sell the Clippers but a vote by the league’s other 29 owners could make it happen.

Clippers guard Chris Paul also seemed to sympathize with Shelly Sterling.

“For us it’s tough, but I can’t imagine how tough it is for that family,” Paul said. “So we’ll continue to let them get through that.”