OAKLAND, Calif. – The Los Angeles Clippers wore their shooting shirts and practice jerseys inside-out before their playoff game against the Golden State Warriors Sunday afternoon in a protest against the alleged racial comments attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
The Clippers discussed the possibility of boycotting Game 4 of their first-round playoff series with the Warriors in a team meeting Saturday after the alleged comments were made public, but opted to play. The players haven't commented much on the controversy, allowing coach Doc Rivers to speak for the team.
As the Clippers players took the court before Sunday's game, they all tossed their warm-up jackets with the Clippers name on the front to midcourt and then warmed up with their shooting shirts inside out.
Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford convinced their teammates to do the protest before they ran onto the floor for pregame warm-ups, sources said.
Clippers wearing shooting shirts inside out. pic.twitter.com/jXnHWjmWgE— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 27, 2014
The Clippers took off their shooting shirts and dumped them at center court. pic.twitter.com/Nod5QWsWJy— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 27, 2014
The players also wore black wristbands on their left arms and black socks as part of the protest. Sterling did not attend the game, but his wife Shelly sat across from the bench wearing black.
The Clippers players are contemplating making a bigger statement during Game 5 of the series against the Warriors on Tuesday in Los Angeles, a source told Yahoo Sports. The source said the players needed more time to decide what they wanted to do and would prefer a stronger statement on their home floor at Staples Center.
Rivers admitted before the game he was a little worried about how his players were doing in the aftermath of the report.
"You know, from a coaching standpoint, you're concerned," Rivers said. "They've been pulled in a million directions over the last 24 hours, and so that's a fact."
Rivers said the Clippers had tried to prepare for the game as normal as possible, but admitted the controversy had become a distraction.
"The mental preparation, on the other hand, I just – honestly, I don't know," Rivers said. "Because, listen, as much as this is basketball, this is life. And our guys, they have family. They have friends. And they have cell phones. And I can't imagine how much they've been pulled on and talked to and what you should do and what you shouldn't do and what you should say. And that's abnormal to a normal playoff game."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver was at Sunday's game and expected to meet with Sacramento mayor and ex-NBA player Kevin Johnson, who is representing the National Basketball Player's Association.
Silver said Saturday the NBA hoped to complete its investigation of the alleged comments within a few days. He would not specify any possible sanctions or punishment.