NBA and Clippers players weren’t the only ones upset and outraged by the racist comments of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
So were other Clippers employees.
In fact, they needed a coach — and in stepped Doc Rivers.
The Clippers coach addressed employees responsible for ticketing, marketing, group sales, sponsorship, finance, human resources and fan relations on Friday and said they were “sitting there crying.” Workers were in such disarray over the comments that they considered not working. They were, according to ESPN, being berated by angry fans, season-ticket holders and sponsors over the phone. White workers were called racist; minority workers were called sellouts. Their bosses asked Rivers, who has had the most inspirational voice in all this, to speak with them.
“Our players thought about not working,” Rivers said (via the Los Angeles Times). “So did our employees. And they still felt that way. They needed somebody to ask them to continue to work and support here.”
After all, there is still work for them to do. How much depends on how the Clippers do in Game 7 of their NBA playoff series against Golden State today.
“It was really hard to see them,” Rivers said (via ESPN). “I didn’t realize. Ticket people and marketing people, they’re sitting there crying and I felt so bad for them. I was thinking, ‘My gosh, we’ve been in this thing as players and as coaches but you forget these are the people that are on the front line.’ They work for the organization, too. You just felt so bad for them today. You’re sitting there and they were sharing some of the calls they had. They didn’t know the story was breaking and when it broke, like we said, there’s no playbook for this.”
Sterling was banned for life from the team and the NBA on Tuesday by Commissioner Adam Silver, who urged NBA owners to press Sterling to sell the team. Sterling also was fined $2.5 million, the maximum fine Silver was allowed to levy under the league’s constitution and by-laws.
“When I looked at them, there was black, Hispanic, white, Asian, women, men — there were so many different groups and they all have been affected by this,” Rivers said. “I’m glad I went down. … Before Game 7 you’re thinking I should be up in the office but what I did today for me was far more important than this stuff because they need it. They really do. They need it more than even our players right now. They really need somebody. They’re just as important as me and our players. They need the same support. What I witnessed today, you realize this thing has touched a lot of people. The people that didn’t do anything are being harmed by this. I wish we could find the right solution, but I don’t have it.”