OAKLAND, Calif. – Rev. Jesse Jackson called several Los Angeles Clippers players in the aftermath of the racist comments allegedly made by team owner Donald Sterling, a source told Yahoo Sports. Jackson's call was part of what seemed like an endless parade of messages sent to the Clippers from family members, friends and fellow NBA players since Friday night. Although Clippers players declined to go into detail about Sterling, many gave read-between-the-lines quotes without saying his name.
The Clippers gave the Golden State Warriors respect for their series-tying 118-97 victory in Game 4 of the first-round playoff series on Sunday, but some admitted the Sterling news weighed on them.
"Maybe our focus wasn't in the right place would be the easiest way to say it," said Clippers guard J.J. Redick.
The Clippers' coaching staff and players talked about boycotting Game 4 during a pre-practice meeting on Saturday before ultimately deciding to play. Coach Doc Rivers emotionally and uncomfortably addressed the situation before Game 4 but his players declined to talk about it before Sunday's contest.
The Clippers arrived at Oracle Arena on Sunday without any protest planned, a source said. But just before they ran onto the floor for Game 4, sources say forward Matt Barnes and guard Jamal Crawford convinced teammates to wear their shooting shirts that said "Clippers" on the front inside-out during warm-ups. The Clippers took off their warm-up jackets and tossed them on to the floor at midcourt. The Clippers players also wore black wristbands, tape and socks.
"I didn't voice my opinion," Rivers said of the silent protest. "I wasn't thrilled about it, to be honest. But if that's what they want to do, that's what they want to do."
Chris Paul declined to elaborate on the message he and his teammates sent, saying, "At the end of the day it had nothing to do with the game."
The Warriors opened Game 4 strong with a 22-10 lead while Sterling's wife, Rochelle, sat across from the Clippers' bench courtside in all black. Her security guard said she didn't want to speak to the media.
Stephen Curry finally got going early in this series with 17 of his 33 points coming in the first quarter; he hit five of his seven 3-pointers in the game's first 8:30, lifting the Warriors to a 39-24 lead. Los Angeles never got closer than nine points.
Contrary to Paul and Blake Griffin, Clippers Glen Davis and Redick acknowledged they were distracted over the Sterling situation.
"There was a lot going on today," Redick said. "Unfortunately besides all the peripheral stuff, we played a team that played a great basketball game."
Said Davis: "You're going to think about it. It's on your brain. It's on your mind. You can feel it. But you got to move past it and move forward."
The Clippers, who are taking Monday off from practice, are still contemplating making a strong statement at Game 5, which they will host in Los Angeles, but are uncertain what to do, sources told Yahoo Sports.
The NBA Players' Association hopes that the NBA will finish its investigation prior to Game 5 and give Sterling the maximum punishment if found guilty. With an NBA decision still up in the air, Rivers is uncertain what to expect from Clippers fans at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
"We're going home now," Rivers said. "And usually that would mean that we're going to a safe haven. And I don't even know if that's true to be honest."