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Donald Sterling‘s incendiary remarks — caught on tape and posted on Friday night — have drawn an investigation by the NBA, condemnation from politicians (including President Barack Obama) and calls for the Clippers team owner to sell the franchise.
The details of how the racist audio recordings made their way to TMZ are only starting to be revealed. V. Stiviano, the woman heard in the recordings, was recently sued by the Sterling family for embezzlement.
She is a “defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even,'” Clippers president Andy Roeser said in a Saturday statement on behalf of Sterling that served as the first official response to the recordings.
A suit reportedly filed by Rochelle Sterling, wife of the team owner, in L.A. Superior Court on March 7 sheds light on the $1.8 million figure mentioned. It is the price of a duplex purchased by Donald Sterling for V. Stiviano, the Los Angeles Times reports from the filing. Sterling also gifted Stiviano with a Ferrari, two Bentleys and a Range Rover, the filing says.
The filing also states that Sterling’s relationship with Stiviano began in 2010 and describes Rochelle Sterling as “a married woman seeking to protect and recover community property in her individual capacity,” according to the L.A. Times.
The attorney of V. Stiviano released a statement on Sunday clarifying the audio recordings that have surfaced.
“This office understands that the currently released audio tape of approximately 15 minutes is a portion of approximately one (1) hour of overall audio recording of Mr. Donald T. Sterling and Ms. Stiviano, and is in fact legitimate,” stated attorney Mac E. Nehoray in a press release. “Ms. Stiviano did not release the tape(s) to any news media. Due to the present litigation and its absurd allegations, which Ms. Stiviano vehemently denies, Ms. Stiviano and this office have no comments at this time.”
In the audio TMZ posted, which was not dated, Sterling can be heard expressing his apparent displeasure with Stiviano about inviting “black people” — including NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson — to attend Clipper basketball games.
On Sunday, Gawker Media’s Deadspin acquired a 15-minute version of the conversation between Stiviano and Sterling. In the remarks — the website disclosed that it doesn’t yet know if the audio was “edited in some way” — the mogul is heard making similarly racially charged remarks.
The NBA league office and the players association issued statements on Saturday announcing an investigation into the remarks. League commissioner Adam Silver said Sterling would not attend Sunday’s Clippers playoff game against the Warriors and mentioned that action against the owner is pending.
After Johnson denounced the remarks — including the assertion that he and his wife, Cookie Johnson, would not attend a Clipper game as long as Sterling is the owner — many prominent NBA names weighed in. Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, now owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, released a statement to CBS News saying, “I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views.”
Jordan added: “I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport.”
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