LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach and Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Doc Rivers spoke out Monday, giving a statement on behalf of the Clippers organization in light of the controversy surrounding the alleged racist comments of owner Donald Sterling.
Rivers, who also had taken part in a teleconference with reporters earlier on Monday, clearly left little doubt, as expected, about where he stands as the team faces extreme adversity and distraction in the height of a post-season effort.
“I would like to reiterate how disappointed I am in the comments attributed to [Donald Sterling], and I can’t even begin to tell you how upset I am, and (how upset) our players are. Today I had a meeting with the members of our organization. When you are around all these people, you realize they are just as upset and embarrassed by the situation, and it does not reflect who they really are.That was what I got from all of them. They are now a part of this, and they are upset at this. But, they are all going to hang in there, and so are we — I can tell you that as a group and as a team.”
Perhaps in response to some suggestions that fans may choose to boycott the remainder of the Clippers’ playoff run, Rivers included Clippers fans into his statement, saying that, more than ever, his team needs their support.
“From our fans’ standpoint, I wan to say that they have been amazing, I can tell you that. We need unbelievable support right now from other people, and I’m hoping we get that. My hope is that whatever the fans do, it is as one. I think that is what we all should do. We want to make the right decisions here. We’re doing our very best to try and do that. We know that fans are in a dilemma as well. We want them to cheer for their players and their team. It will always be their players and their team. From the fans that I have heard from, that’s how they feel. ‘This is my team. These are my players that I’m cheering for, and that’s not going to change.’ I hope STAPLES Center is packed, and people are cheering for the players. The players are now in the middle of this, and they have to deal with it.”
Rivers went on to acknowledge that, while the team’s focus needs to be on their current post-season series against the Golden State Warriors, which is tied at two games apiece, the entire situation presents an emotional weight on the shoulders of his players and himself.
“We are all trying to figure out everything as it goes and just do our best, and we hope that is the right answer. I’m still going to do my best and do what I think is best for the team, and for everybody in this case. It is very difficult, because there are so many emotions in this. This is a very emotional subject, this is personal.”
In concluding his statement, Rivers, who was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2000, and coached the Boston Celtics to an NBA Championship victory in 2008, said that he knows where his focus, as well as that of his players, will need to be if his team is to continue their playoff run, and ultimately make the right statement.
“My belief is that the longer we keep winning, the more we talk about this. I believe that is good. If we want to make a statement, I believe that is how we have to do it. I think that is the right way to do it, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t wrestle with it every day and every moment. That is the difficult part. We are all doing our best here. Our players are doing their best. There are a lot of people involved in this. From one man’s comments, a lot of people have been affected, and the conversations that we’re all having do need to be had.”