OAKLAND — Warriors coach Mark Jackson said if he were a fan of either team, he would not attend Game 5 of the NBA playoff series at Staples Center because of racially charged comments attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers noted that he couldn't say Jackson was wrong and understood his counterpart was speaking from the heart. Rivers still hoped fans would cheer tonight.
“If they feel differently, who can say they're wrong?” Rivers said.
The first-round series between the Warriors and Clippers is tied 2-2 heading into a pivotal Game 5 in Los Angeles and approaching a boiling point that has little to do the basketball being played on the court.
The NBA scheduled a news conference the morning of the game to make an announcement regarding the investigation involving Sterling, who is in hot water after a recording on TMZ.com surfaced of a man telling a girlfriend not to bring black people to games or associate with them in public.
The Clippers won't make their players available for interviews today and also canceled Monday's practice.
“I felt like they needed to breathe,” Rivers said. “If you get your life better, then you can probably do your work better.”
Rivers continued to serve as spokesman for his players while at the same time turning down an opportunity to speak with Sterling.
“I don't think right now is the time or the place with me personally, so I passed,” Rivers said.
Jackson, meanwhile, offered an extraordinary Game 5 pregame call to action for fans.
“The loudest statement to be made is not showing up,” Jackson said. “The noise of it not being tolerated, that this is a different time. It's unfortunate, and we cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit.”