NBA looking into alleged Sterling comments

Memphis, TN ( - NBA commissioner Adam Silver says Donald Sterling deserves due process in the investigation over the racially charged remarks allegedly made by the Los Angeles Clippers owner.

Silver said Saturday night he would not immediately come to a decision on an outcome regarding Sterling.

"All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side to any controversy, which is why I'm not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling," Silver said during a news conference at FedExForum before a playoff game between Memphis and Oklahoma City.

"We will, however, move extraordinary quickly in our investigation." posted nearly 10 minutes of audio it said is a conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend in which a man tells a woman he is bothered by her association with African Americans and asks her not to bring them to Clippers games.

"The audio recording by TMZ is truly offensive and disturbing," said Silver. "We intend to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible."

Silver said he hopes to have the investigation done in a few days. He said Sterling agreed he would not attend Sunday's Game 4 first-round playoff game between the Clippers and Warriors in Oakland.

According to TMZ, Sterling was particularly upset that the woman, named by the website as his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, posted a picture on her Instagram account of her with Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

Stiviano is reported to be of both black and Mexican descent.

"The core of the investigation is understanding whether the tape is authentic, interviewing Mr. Sterling, potentially interviewing the woman as well, and understanding the context in which it was recorded," Silver said.

The Clippers said they are also investigating the tape to see if it's legitimate or has been altered and said the woman on the tape is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging she embezzled almost $2 million from them.

The team said Sterling doesn't believe the comments on the recording are consistent with his beliefs.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who is president of the National Basketball Players Association, said in a statement that the players union was going to "aggressively" address the situation.

"There are broad powers in place in the NBA's constitution and bylaws that include a range of sanctions," Silver said regarding possible penalties for Sterling. "All of those will be considered depending on the findings of our investigation."

Paul said the union has asked longtime NBA point guard and current Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson to expand his responsibilities with the NBPA "to determine our response and our next steps."

"As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and a drive to the finals," Paul said.

Kevin Johnson called the alleged comments "reprehensible and unacceptable" and said the union has to take an active role in determining how the situation is handled.

"There needs to be an immediate investigation and if the reports are true, there needs to be strong and swift action taken," he said in a statement. "I will be formally reaching out to the NBA today to determine our next steps. While I originally came on to lead the executive director search, this issue requires immediate attention from the players association."

Reaction came from around the league.

"I couldn't play for him," tweeted Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

LeBron James, speaking before his Miami Heat played the Charlotte Bobcats, said Silver has to take a stand and be "very aggressive."

"If the reports are true, it's unacceptable in our league," said James. "It doesn't matter white, black, Hispanic -- all across the races, it's unacceptable. ...

"You just can't have that in our league."

Magic Johnson responded on Twitter that he and his wife "will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner."

Silver said the NBA was fortunate Clippers players didn't decide to boycott their next game.

"I've spoken directly to Chris Paul. I've spoken to Doc Rivers. Their focus is on competing in their current playoff series," Silver said. "I appreciate that and the fact that Kevin Johnson has made himself available to the players to work through this situation."

This is not the first time Sterling, who has owned the Clippers since 1981, has been embroiled in controversy.

In 2009, he was fined over $2.7 million by the U.S. Justice Department to settle allegations he discriminated against African-Americans, Hispanics and families with children at apartment buildings he controls in Los Angeles.

Two years later, Sterling won a lawsuit filed by former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor, who accused the team of firing him based on his age.

Sterling also previously reached a settlement with a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment.