LOS ANGELES — Though disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was nowhere to be found Tuesday night at Staples Center, his estranged wife was spotted after the game inside the arena. Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said that Shelly Sterling “has been through as much as anyone” and gave his blessing for her to attend the Clippers’ Game 5 win over the Golden State Warriors.
She had also attended the team’s previous game Sunday at Golden State, but that was before her husband was banned for life Tuesday by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. She was spotted Wednesday night by reporters following the Clippers’ 113-103 win over the Golden State Warriors.
“It’s a tough one for Shelly. Really,” Rivers said. “You know, she didn’t do anything wrong, either. You have compassion for her. I kept hearing about the girlfriend and I’m thinking, ‘Shelly’s the wife.’ You know what I mean?”
The infamous recording in which Donald Sterling made racist remarks came in a recorded conversation with his former mistress, V. Stiviano. The Sterlings have reportedly been separated for a few years.
Rivers said he spoke with Shelly Sterling earlier in the day, and she asked for permission to attend the game, “which I thought was a very nice gesture,” the coach said.
“She just wanted the players to know that — she told me to tell them that she loved them,” he said. “I thought, why not?”
While Silver says he’ll ask the league’s Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, he said there have been no decisions about what role Sterling’s family can have with the team moving forward. “I should say that this ruling applies specifically to Donald Sterling and Donald Sterling’s conduct only,” Silver said.
Rivers, though, said he thinks it would be unlikely that Sterling’s wife retained ownership.
“Doesn’t sound like it, to be honest. And I think she knows that,” he said. “But she still wanted to be here. I don’t know if that’s right or wrong, but I thought it was right.”
Citing court documents, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that Sterling’s wife has also faced accusations of prejudicial behavior and offensive language.
Clippers guard Chris Paul said Rivers addressed the team Tuesday and advised them that Sterling’s wife would be in attendance.
“Coach talked about in our locker room, how I’m sure it’s been tough on her also,” he said, “She came to our game to support us there in Golden State. For us, it’s tough, but I can’t imagine how tough it is on that family.”
And that, friends, is how the new Clippers will be born.
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