Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling told his girlfriend that he doesn't want her to bring black people to his games or post pictures with black people on Instagram, according to unverified audio obtained by TMZ.
The tape begins in the middle of an argument between Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano. Sterling appears to be upset that Stiviano, who is black and Mexican, has been posting photos to Instagram of herself with black people -- in particular, with Magic Johnson.
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people," he is heard saying. "Do you have to?"
Stiviano says that all she did was take a picture with someone she admires. "I think the fact that you admire [Magic] -- I've known him well, and he should be admired," Sterling replies. "And I'm just saying that it's too bad you can't admire him privately. And during your ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE, your whole life, admire him -- bring him here, feed him, fuck him, I don't care. You can do anything. But don't put him on an Instagram for the world to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games. OK?"
Sterling and the Clippers organization issued a statement to TMZ on Saturday evening in response to the recording. "We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered," the statement said. "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, alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would 'get even.'"
"Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings," they added. "It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life."
Magic Johnson has heard Sterling's alleged comments, and he's not pleased. "It's a shame that Donald Sterling feels that way about African-Americans," he told TMZ. "He has a team full of amazing African-American basketball players that are working to bring a championship to Clippers fans. The Clippers also have a strong minority fan base."
Sterling has long had a reputation for racism. The Clippers owner and real estate mogul settled a lawsuit confidentially in 2005 that accused him of discriminating against black and Hispanic tenants at properties he owned. He paid $2.7 million in response to another housing discrimination lawsuit in 2009. Sterling and his wife denied wrongdoing and said the settlement was not an admission of guilt, according to the LA Times.
But one of Sterling's top property supervisors, Summer Davenport, gave some damning testimony about him in response to the first discrimination suit, according to depositions obtained by ESPN:
When Sterling first bought the Ardmore, he remarked on its odor to Davenport. "That's because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they're not clean," he said, according to Davenport's testimony. "And it's because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day." He added: "So we have to get them out of here." Shortly after, construction work caused a serious leak at the complex. When Davenport surveyed the damage, she found an elderly woman, Kandynce Jones, wading through several inches of water in Apartment 121. Jones was paralyzed on the right side and legally blind. She took medication for high blood pressure and to thin a clot in her leg. Still, she was remarkably cheerful, showing Davenport pictures of her children, even as some of her belongings floated around her.
Jones had repeatedly walked to the apartment manager's office to plead for assistance, according to sworn testimony given by her daughter Ebony Jones in the Housing Rights Center case. Kandynce Jones' refrigerator dripped, her dishwasher was broken, and her apartment was always cold. Now it had flooded. Davenport reported what she saw to Sterling, and according to her testimony, he asked: "Is she one of those black people that stink?" When Davenport told Sterling that Jones wanted to be reimbursed for the water damage and compensated for her ruined property, he replied: "I am not going to do that. Just evict the bitch."
Listen to the full audio above.
UPDATE: 1:35 p.m. -- A reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News says he's learned that Clippers players met last night about the Sterling story:
UPDATE: 2:00 p.m. -- The NBA is investigating the issue, according to NBC Sports:
“We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by TMZ. The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information.”
UPDATE: 6:10 p.m. -- Sterling and the Clippers organization have responded to TMZ about the audio recording. This post has been updated to reflect his statement.
UPDATE: 2:20 p.m. Tuesday -- The NBA has determined that the voice on the tape belonged to Donald Sterling, and they have decided to punish him with a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced on Tuesday. Silver said he will also urge the Board of Governors to force a sale of the team.