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Clippers stage silent protest of owner; Obama blasts ‘racist statements’

Developments come after a recording emerged purportedly of the team'€™s owner, Donald Sterling, making racist statements

The Los Angeles Clippers made a silent protest of owner Donald Sterling's purported comments urging a woman, allegedly his girlfriend, not to bring black people to his team's games. The team ran out of the tunnel for Game 4 of their first-round playoff series at Golden State on Sunday wearing their warm-up uniforms. They huddled together at center court and tossed their warm-ups to the ground and went through their pregame routine with their red Clippers' shirts on inside-out to hide the team's logo.

Clippers players again chose to remain silent and not speak out on Sterling's alleged comments before the game. Coach Doc Rivers said he would be the only one to speak for the team on the issue.

The NBA is currently investigating an audio recording in which a man identified as Sterling tells his girlfriend he wishes she would refrain from publicly associating with black people. If the tape is verified, the league has said Sterling could face all possible sanctions.

Earlier on Sunday, President Barack Obama said that the comments reported to have been made by the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers basketball team were "incredibly offensive racist statements."

"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk," Obama said when asked about the controversy during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Obama said he was confident NBA commissioner Adam Silver would deal with the issue.

"Obviously the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans across the country," said. "It's got an awful lot of African American players steeped in African-American culture."

Though there have been calls for Sterling's immediate suspension, NBA commissioner Silver said Saturday that Sterling should be afforded due process. 

"It would be unwise of me and improper to express a view as to what the ultimate outcome of any investigation would take us to," Silver said, adding that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording.

Sterling is not attending Sunday's playoff game, Silver said, adding that the investigation should be finished within days.

In the recording posted on TMZ, the man questions his girlfriend's association with minorities. TMZ reported the woman, V. Stiviano, who is of black and Mexican descent, posted a picture of herself with Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson on Instagram — which has since been removed.

The man asked Stiviano not to broadcast her association with black people or bring black people to games.

"I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner," Magic Johnson responded on Twitter. He also said the alleged comments are "a black eye for the NBA" and said he felt bad that friends such as Clippers coach Doc Rivers and Clippers point guard Chris Paul had to work for Sterling.

Former Clippers guard Baron Davis wrote on Twitter that Sterling's discrimination has been "going on for a long time." Sterling has been involved in several lawsuits over the years, including ones with discrimination accusations.

In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks and to families with children. The Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006 for allegations of housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles.

In March 2011, Sterling won a lawsuit against former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor when a jury rejected the Hall of Famer's claim of age discrimination and harassment. Baylor, who was 76 at the time, had sought about $2 million after claiming he was forced out of the job he had held for 22 years. The team said Baylor left on his own and a jury awarded him nothing.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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