By Jon Herskovitz
(Reuters) - The NAACP civil rights group will not honor Donald Sterling with a lifetime achievement award after the Los Angeles Clippers owner was allegedly caught making racially disparaging comments, the organization's head said on Sunday.
Sterling was severely criticized after the celebrity news site TMZ.com on Friday posted a 10-minute recording in which a person reported to be the NBA owner tells a woman not to post photographs of herself with black people online and not to bring African-Americans to Clippers games.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the oldest civil rights organization in the United States, had planned to give Sterling a lifetime achievement award at its May 15 banquet.
"He is not receiving a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP that's coming up in the next few weeks," Lorraine Miller, the organization's interim president and chief executive, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" TV show.
The NBA has said it was investigating the audio recording, described by Commissioner Adam Silver as "truly offensive and disturbing".
President Barack Obama weighed in, saying on Sunday the comments were "incredibly offensive racist statements".
"When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk," Obama said when asked about the controversy during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Players and coaches with the Clippers, which take on the Golden State Warriors in a playoff on Sunday, had discussed boycotting the game to protest the comments allegedly made by Sterling, Yahoo Sports reported.
MICHAEL JORDAN 'APPALLED'
NBA great Michael Jordan said in a statement: "I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport.
"In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level," he said.
It was not immediately clear when or how the conversation was recorded.
Clippers President Andy Roeser issued a statement on Saturday saying he had listened to the recording on TMZ.
"We do not know if it is legitimate or if it has been altered. We do know that the woman on the tape - who we believe released it to TMZ - is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family," he said.
The recording appears to be an argument between Sterling and a model who uses the name V. Stiviano about photographs posted to the social networking website Instagram.
"People call you and tell you that I have black people on my Instagram. And it bothers you," the voice alleged to be Stiviano's says, according to a version of the recording at TMZ.com. She also says she herself is of Latino and black heritage.
"Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to promo ... broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" the voice alleged to be Sterling's says, according to TMZ.
Sterling is also allegedly heard telling the woman not to post photos of herself with Earvin "Magic" Johnson, another giant of the NBA. "And don't bring him to my games, OK?"
The Clippers' statement said Sterling was "upset and apologizes" for the sentiments attributed to him about Johnson.
"Mr Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life," the statement said.
Sterling, who made his fortune in real estate, has not made any public comment.
He has faced allegations of discriminatory conduct in the past. In 2009, he paid $2.7 million to settle a case brought by the U.S. Justice Department which accused him of housing discrimination against blacks and Hispanics.
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Ben Everill in Los Angeles, Gene Cherry in Raleigh and Matt Spetalnick in Malaysia; Editing by Lynne O'Donnell)
- Society & Culture
- Arts & Entertainment
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Donald Sterling