Woman in Sterling racism row denies releasing tapes

V Stiviano, the woman whom Donald Sterling was talking to when he made racist remarks, is "very saddened" by his lifetime NBA ban, and she didn’t release the recording of their conversation, her lawyer said.

Stiviano “never wanted any harm to Donald,” Siamak Nehoray of Calabasas told the Los Angeles Times.

Somebody released it “for money,” but it wasn’t Stiviano, the attorney said.

“My client is devastated that this got out,” he said.

Nehoray previously said the recording posted online is a snippet of a conversation lasting roughly an hour.

In the recording, the Los Angeles Clippers owner apparently is upset with Stiviano for posting photos online of herself with Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling asks.

The Johnson photo has since been deleted from Stiviano’s Instagram account.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver condemned the remarks. He banned Sterling for life from any association with the league or his team, and Silver fined him $2.5m.

Stiviano has been described as Sterling’s girlfriend.

In March, Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, sued Stiviano, seeking the return of more than $2.5m in lavish gifts the woman allegedly received from her husband, including luxury cars and a $1.8m duplex.

The lawsuit claims Stiviano, 31, met Sterling, 80, at the 2010 Super Bowl.

It accuses Stiviano of engaging “in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from, cheat and/or receive as gifts transfers of wealth from wealthy older men whom she targets for such purpose.”

Stiviano’s attorney has filed documents to dismiss many of the accusations and denies that she took advantage of Sterling, describing him as having an “iron will” and being one of the world’s shrewdest businessmen.

Nehoray told the Times Stiviano and Sterling didn’t have a romantic relationship. “It’s nothing like it’s been portrayed,” the lawyer said. “She’s not the type of person everyone says.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered the extraordinary punishment to Sterling after a recording of racist statements by the real-estate mogul was made public several days ago.

The ban is one of the harshest penalties in the history of US sports, but was met with near-universal acclaim from fellow owners, civil rights observers and NBA players who strongly contemplated a playoff boycott if Sterling wasn’t punished harshly.

Silver also will urge the NBA’s board of governors to compel Sterling to sell the Clippers, and if three-quarters of the other 29 owners agree, the league’s longest-tenured owner almost certainly will be forced to give up the team he has owned since 1981. Rumours were circulating that boxer Floyd Mayweather is about to buy the LA Clippers.

Even while Sterling contemplates his next move, the Clippers organisation rushed to distance itself from Sterling. Shortly after Silver’s announcement, the Clippers’ website featured only a black screen with a simple message: “We are one.”

Sterling has faced extensive federal charges of civil rights violations and racial discrimination in business, making shocking race-related statements in sworn testimony before reaching multimillion-dollar settlements. He has also been sued for sexual harassment by former employees, and the court proceedings detailed an outlandish list of Sterling’s personal proclivities.

Baylor, the former NBA great who served as the Clippers’ GM for 22 years, left the franchise with rancour and an unsuccessful lawsuit alleging race and age discrimination. Baylor claimed Sterling has a “plantation mentality” about the Clippers, envisioning a team of “poor black boys from the South playing for a white coach.”

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of Sterling’s history of discrimination charges and outlandish statements wasn’t surprised by the latest revelations.

With encouragement from Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Sterling paid just over $12m in 1981 for the beleaguered San Diego Clippers, who had moved out from Buffalo three years earlier.

Along the way, Sterling and his insurance company paid $2.75m to settle a federal housing discrimination lawsuit after court proceedings packed with scandalous testimony about Sterling’s opinions of minority tenants in his properties. More salacious tales came out of Baylor’s wrongful termination lawsuit, which was ultimately unsuccessful.

Sterling’s recorded comments included a personal attack on Magic Johnson, which came as a shock to the Dodgers owner and retired Lakers superstar.

“I had a friendship with him, so for him to then make these alleged comments about myself ... there’s no place in our society for it,” Johnson said of ABC’s pre-game show Sunday.


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