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Lowell Cohn: Remarks in alleged Sterling recording are sad, troubling

  • Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. (MARK J. TERRILL / Associated Press)

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is a racist.

He certainly seems to be. Go listen to his nine-minute conversation with his girlfriend on TMZ and you'll hear disturbing things, shocking things he reportedly told her. He claims the tape may have been altered. Perhaps.

Here's a sample of him allegedly talking to his girlfriend:

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

“You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in. You can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that (Instagram) and not to bring them to my games.”

“I'm just saying, in your lousy (expletive) Instagrams, you don't have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

“Don't put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games.”

It is sad and troubling for anyone to think and say those things. It's especially sad for a team owner whose star players are black to hold these feelings, to say these awful things — if he really said them.

Before we move on, the issue may not be as simple as it seems. Did he really say these hateful things? If he did, he did not say them publicly. He did not show up at the Staples Center and go on a racist rant like that horrible Cliven Bundy routinely does at his ranch so we'll see and hear him on our TV sets.

Sterling apparently thought he was speaking privately to his girlfriend. He did not know she was recording him — I assume she recorded him. He did not know she would give the tape to TMZ — I assume she gave the tape to TMZ.

I am not saying any of this absolves Sterling. Of course, it doesn't. He comes off horrible. But many people have awful private thoughts they do not make public. He never intended to make this stuff public, and his girlfriend seems to have ratted him out — ratted out the rat. And now everyone is in a mess — Sterling, his girlfriend, the Clippers, the Warriors, the NBA, you and I.

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