Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Los Angeles Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling. Instead, they made a silent protest.
In response to Sterling's purported comments urging a woman to not bring black people to his team's games, the Clippers on Sunday let their uniforms become a show of solidarity.
They ran out of the tunnel for Game 4 of their first-round playoff at Golden State wearing their warmups. Then they huddled at center court and tossed their warmups to the ground, going through their pregame routine with their red Clippers' shirts inside out to hide the team's logo.
Players also wore black wristbands or armbands. They all wore black socks with their normal jerseys.
"It's just us, only us. We're all we got," Clippers star guard Chris Paul could be heard shouting to teammates before they ran out.
The Warriors' sellout crowd of 19,596, decked out in gold shirts, booed the Clippers — as they always do — during introductions.
Sterling's wife, Shelly, was sitting courtside across from the Clippers' bench. Commissioner Adam Silver had said Donald Sterling would not be at the game.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game that he would remain the only one to speak for the team on this, saying players want to remain focused on basketball. Even he, though, acknowledged that has not been easy since TMZ released the alleged recording of Sterling on Saturday.
"Our message is to play," Rivers said. "Our message is that we're going to let no one and nothing stop us from what we want to do. And I think that's a good message. I really do. I think that's the message we're trying to send. And if we can pull this off all the way, I think that would be a terrific message."
While the Clippers wanted to let their play do the talking, other NBA players continued to speak out on the subject.
Some talked about the hurt Sterling's alleged words caused. Others urged Silver to take an aggressive stance against Sterling, who has a history of alleged discrimination. Most of them hoped Sterling would be removed as the team's owner someday soon.
"We're more than basketball players," Wizards guard Garrett Temple said. "We're human beings, first and foremost, and when you hear something like that, it's very unfortunate that whoever that is talking feels that way, and I don't think there's any place in this game or in the world, for that matter, for thoughts like that."
Miami Heat star LeBron James said Silver needed to take action, going so far as to suggest "there is no room for Donald Sterling in our league." Lakers star Kobe Bryant wrote on his Twitter page that he couldn't play for Sterling. Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who played for the Clippers from 1992-94, said he could forgive Sterling but couldn't play for him right now, either.
The players union, still without an executive director since firing Billy Hunter in February 2013, is following the situation closely. The union has asked former NBA All-Star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to take a leading role on the players' behalf to address the Sterling matter.
Johnson and Silver attended the game Sunday. Johnson said he called an emergency phone meeting of every player representative to the union Saturday night and spoke with Silver before the game. He said this is a "defining moment" for the NBA and for Silver.
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