President Obama called insensitive comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling “incredibly offensive racist statements” during a news conference in Malaysia.
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” Obama said (via USA Today) when asked to respond to Sterling’s comments to his girlfriend. Their conversation was captured on an audio recording that the gossip site TMZ.com published and it rocked the NBA on Saturday. The league will make a quick and thorough investigation, Commissioner Adam Silver said Saturday night, and received a promise from Sterling that he will not attend the team’s playoff game against the Golden State Warriors at 3:30 p.m. EDT today in Oakland, Calif.
In the 10-minute recording, a man TMZ says is Sterling tells V. Stiviano not to bring black people to games and to delete a photo she had posted of herself and Magic Johnson on Instagram. The Clippers, in a statement, questioned the authenticity of the recording and determining that is part of the NBA’s investigation.
The comments, Obama said, show that “the United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation. That’s still there, the vestiges of discrimination. We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often,” Obama said.
NBA players and former players have weighed in on the latest controversy to embroil the owner, who has been involved in litigation over discriminatory actions and comments during his over 30 years as owner of the Clippers. This time, on a week when Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy made headlines, Sterling was at the center of a national conversation across multiple media platforms.