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Updated: 2 years 7 weeks ago
Adam Silver's first crisis of his short tenure as NBA commissioner has arrived, a race-tinged scandal leaving those associated with the game wondering how strongly and swiftly the league will respond. Allegations that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught on tape making racist comments rapidly overshadowed perhaps the most entertaining opening playoff round in league history. The recording was first released by TMZ, and there still has been no official confirmation that Sterling is on the tape. Silver's first priority is verifying Sterling's voice is in the recording.
The Los Angeles Clippers made a silent protest against owner Donald Sterling before Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series against Golden State. The Warriors made a different kind of statement during the game. Stephen Curry made a career playoff-high seven 3-pointers and scored 33 points, leading the Warriors past the Clippers 118-97 on Sunday to even their first-round series at two games apiece.
Houston's James Harden says the pressure has shifted to the Trail Blazers in their first-round playoff series. Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge respectfully disagrees. Portland won the first two games in Houston before the Rockets won the third, 121-116 in overtime on Friday night at the Moda Center. ''We're still in control, the pressure is still on them,'' said Aldridge, who had more than 40 points in each of the first two games before the Rockets held him to 23.
Steve Kerr said Sunday he spoke with Phil Jackson twice over the weekend and that they will continue discussing the possibility of him becoming coach of the New York Knicks. Kerr said he had dinner with Jackson, his former coach with Chicago and the new Knicks team president, on Friday night and they talked again Saturday. Kerr is in New York to work the game between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors for TNT. Jackson fired Mike Woodson and the rest of the Knicks coaching staff after a 37-45 season, and again said he wasn't interested in returning to coaching.
Dirk Nowitzki had the only miss in a final minute filled with clutch shots by Dallas and San Antonio, topped by Vince Carter's buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Mavericks a Game 3 win. Yet, the Mavericks have consecutive wins over the top-seeded Spurs after losing 10 in a row to them, and a 2-1 first-round series lead heading into Game 4 on Monday night in Dallas. ''You take something away, you give something up,'' San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. You've just got to stop it more than the other team does.'' Popovich and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle are harping on defensive stops after the Mavericks' 109-108 win Saturday.
Even with the team's ''X-factor'' suspended, the Washington Wizards had a No. 42 sitting next to the bench. The 57-year-old with graying hair couldn't box out or grab a rebound, but owner Ted Leonsis waved his red towel and egged on a cheering crowd that chanted ''Free Nene!'' The Wizards did just fine without the suspended Brazilian forward. They scored the first 14 points and beat the Chicago Bulls 98-89 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference series. ''I thought it was pretty hilarious that Ted had Nene's jersey on,'' Wizards guard Bradley Beal said.
Indiana coach Frank Vogel got tough on his players Saturday, and the Pacers responded with a gritty, series-tying win at Atlanta. Now comes the hard part: Figuring out how to get this team to play with the same edge for a second straight game, something the Pacers haven't done in almost two months. So with the swing game in this best-of-seven series looming, Vogel made a clear effort to get his players' attention with a short, simple, stark reminder about what the Hawks have already done this month. ''Look, this team won two of the last three games we've played in this building and they beat us pretty good,'' Vogel said less than 24 hours after Indiana evened the first-round series at 2-2.
The Los Angeles Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling. 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. 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. We're all we got,'' Clippers star guard Chris Paul could be heard shouting to teammates before they ran out.
Coach Steve Clifford said if the Charlotte Bobcats hope to avoid a first-round sweep by the Miami Heat and earn their first postseason win in franchise history, they're going to need someone other than Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker to come through on offense. The Heat double-teamed Jefferson after he scored 15 points in the first quarter Saturday night and hounded Walker en route to a 98-85 victory in Game 3. ''That means there are other opportunities with other guys and we have to take advantage of that.'' While Jefferson and Walker were 12 of 20 from the field, the rest of the Bobcats shot just 33 percent in Game 3. Starting shooting guard Gerald Henderson and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist combined for just nine points on 3 of 12 shooting.
Magic Johnson called upon the NBA to ''come down hard'' on Donald Sterling, even saying that the longtime owner of the Los Angeles Clippers should essentially be ousted from the league. Johnson's comments were among the strongest condemnations yet of Sterling, who allegedly made racially charged comments in an audio recording obtained and released by TMZ. Included in the recording: A male, purported to be Sterling, urging a woman to not bring black people to his team's games and upset that she posted photos of herself posing with black friends on her Instagram account.
Michael Jordan said he's both disgusted and outraged by the racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Jordan, now the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, released a statement Sunday addressing the matter. He said that as an owner, "I'm completely disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views." As a former player, Jordan says "I'm completely outraged." An audio recording obtained by TMZ alleges that Sterling made racist comments to a girlfriend, including urging her not to bring black friends to Clippers games. The NBA and the Clippers are investigating, including whether the male voice on the recording is in fact Sterling's. Jordan said he is confident that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will investigate the matter fully and "take appropriate action quickly." "There is no room in the NBA - or anywhere else - for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed," Jordan said.
An already rough-and-tumble playoff series between the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls now has a full-blown fracas, an ejection and a Game 4 suspension for Nene. What everyone will be watching when these clubs meet Sunday, with Washington leading the Eastern Conference series 2-1, is just how physical the play will get - and whether things will escalate again. ''There's a lot of pushing and shoving and talking,'' Wizards coach Randy Wittman said Saturday, before the NBA announced Nene would sit out Game 4. It just reaches that line, and we've got to know where that line is.'' Nene was tossed with about 8 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter of Chicago's Game 3 victory Friday night after wrapping both hands around the back of Jimmy Butler's head and neck as they stood so close their foreheads touched.
President Barack Obama said Sunday that comments reportedly made by the owner of a U.S. pro basketball team are ''incredibly offensive racist statements,'' before casting them as part of a continuing legacy of slavery and segregation that Americans must confront. ''When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk,'' Obama said when asked to respond to the reported comments from Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling. After avoiding much mention of race relations during his campaign to become the first black president and in his first term, the president last summer offered a personal reflection in response to the shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin. And now Obama has spoken out against an audio recording of a man identified as Sterling telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to games.
Anger, frustration and calls for action echoed around the NBA on Saturday after an audio recording surfaced of a man identified as Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to games. Everybody except for the embattled Clippers owner, who has a decades-long history of alleged discrimination and offensive behavior, seemed to have a response. The league said it was investigating the recording posted on TMZ's website, calling the comments ''disturbing and offensive.'' President Barack Obama, asked to respond at a news conference with Malaysia's prime minister during Obama's visit to the country Sunday, called the reported remarks ''incredibly offensive racist statements.'' ''I don't think I have to interpret those statements for you, they kind of speak for themselves,'' Obama said. And that's what happened here.'' Obama also expressed confidence the NBA would address the situation, and said the United States still wrestles with ''the legacy of race and slavery and segregation.'' ''Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country,'' Obama said.
Michael Heisley, the billionaire businessman who bought the Vancouver Grizzlies and moved the NBA team to Memphis, died Saturday. The Grizzlies said Saturday night that a family member confirmed Heisley's death. The Commercial Appeal reported that Heisley died in Illinois of complications from a massive stroke he suffered nearly 15 months ago. Heisley sold the team to Robert Pera before the start of the 2012-13 season.
Reggie Jackson came off the bench and outscored teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook by himself. The Oklahoma City Thunder needed every point from their top reserve to win yet another overtime game against Memphis. Jackson scored a personal playoff-best 32 points, and the Thunder beat the Grizzlies 92-89 Saturday night, tying up their first-round Western Conference series at two apiece. ''Reggie played an outstanding basketball game,'' Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
LeBron James stripped the ball at midcourt, raced the length of the floor and lifted off for a powerful one-handed dunk. Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, seated on the Charlotte bench, could only look on helplessly. James was taking over and the Miami Heat, well, they were starting to look like the Miami Heat of the past two seasons. Unlike the first two games of the series, James made sure this game wouldn't be close.
Vince Carter knew right away the exact date of the last time he had a buzzer-beating try in a playoff game - 13 years ago. Carter hit a double-pump 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Dallas Mavericks a 109-108 victory in Game 3 and a first-round series lead over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs. With 1.7 seconds left, Carter took an inbound pass from Jose Calderon in the left corner. After a quick pump fake got Manu Ginobili in the air - moments after the Argentine guard had given the Spurs the lead - Carter released the ball just in time.