The NBA is investigating whether racially insensitive comments in an audio recording obtained by TMZ were made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
"The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information," NBA executive vice president of communication Mike Bass said. He also said the league is conducting a "full investigation."
The person on the nearly 10-minute recording asked a female associate "why are you taking pictures with minorities, why?" and told her not to bring to Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson to Clippers games.
In an audio obtained by TMZ and posted on its web site, the person said it bothers him that she posted photos of herself with black people on her Instagram account. After a recent Clippers game, the woman took a picture with Johnson.
"Don't put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. … And don't bring him to my games, OK?" the person said on the audio recording.
"Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to promo, broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" person also said.
Johnson responded on twitter Saturday: "LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA."
And, "I feel sorry for my friends Coach Doc Rivers and Chris Paul that they have to work for a man that feels that way about African Americans."
LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA.
One Clippers player who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity expressed great anger and frustration over the situation, but said it was unclear how the players would react as a whole.
Former Clippers point guard Baron Davis, who had well-chronicled battles with Sterling during his time there, wrote on his Twitter account, also presumably about Sterling, "That's the way it is ... He is honest about what he believes in..Been going on for a long time, Hats off 2 the Team.. 4 playin above it all."
Civil Rights Leader Jesse Jackson has called for the Clippers to boycott, while other prominent African Americans have taken strong stances against Sterling's comments as well. Well-known rap artist Snoop Dogg posted a profanity-laced video on his Instagram account condemning Sterling.
In March, Sterling's wife, Rochelle, filed a lawsuit alleging the woman, identified as V. Stiviano, had an affair with her husband, according to Los Angeles' CBS affiliate reported in March.
In 2005, Sterling, a real estate tycoon, agreed to pay an undisclosed amount in a lawsuit that alleged Sterling tried to force Koreans out of apartments in Koreatown.
In 2009, Sterling paid a then-record $2.73 million Justice Department penalty for rental housing discrimination.
If the league determines the person the recording is Sterling, it's not immediately clear what action if any it could take. Former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was twice banned from day-to-day baseball operations for racist and anti-Semitic comments.
The league might have to consider that Sterling was speaking privately and quite likely did not know was being recorded.
Sterling, the NBA's longest-tenured owner, has owned the Clippers since 1981. The Clippers have a 2-1 lead against the Golden State Warriors in their best-of-seven first-round series. Game 4 is Sunday in Oakland.
The male voice on the recording made it clear he doesn't want the woman to be seen in public with minorities. "You can sleep with them, you can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little that I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games," the person said.
He said she could associate with minorities privately and asked, "Why publicize it on the Instagram and why bring it to my games?"
The person also tried to explain he is "living in a culture, and I have to live within the culture. So that's the way it is."
When the woman told the person he associates with black people, he replied, "I'm not you, and you're not me."
The woman told him she's sorry he feels that way and he answered, "I feel that way so strongly, and it may cause our relationship to just break apart. And if it does, it does."