LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he declined a chance to speak with owner Donald Sterling, who is alleged to have made racist comments in a recorded conversation.
“I was asked, do I need to talk with Donald, and I passed, quite honestly,” Rivers said Monday. “I don’t think right now is the time or the place, for me, at least. I just took a pass.”
Sterling is purported to have told a woman not to bring black people to his games or associate with them.
“Yeah, I believe he said those things. But I still want to make sure,” Rivers said during a conference call. “As far as believing those things? I heard what he said. Until someone tells me differently, you usually listen to what people say. I haven’t given him his due process. I haven’t given him an opportunity to explain himself and quite honestly right now I don’t want him to. I want to wait for that further judgment.”
The coach canceled practice Monday, a day after a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors that evened their playoff series at 2-2.
“I just felt like they needed to breathe. They’ve been inundated with this,” Rivers said.
Still, he said pretty much the entire team was at the club’s practice facility.
“I’ll go down and say hi to them and talk to them, make sure they’re in the right place. Right now it’s more than basketball. This is a non-basketball decision that I thought I had to make and I thought it was right decision. If you get your life better, then you can probably do your work better. They need to do that.”
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
“These last 48 hours or so have been really hard for our players and everyone,” Rivers said. “I’d just like to reiterate how disappointed I am in the comments attributed to our owner. I can’t tell you how upset I am, our players are.”