Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling issued an apology Saturday for a racist rant that is being attributed to him, TMZ Sports reports. The move follows a backlash over the comments from civil rights leaders, social media users, and current and former NBA players.
In a statement released by the Clippers to TMZ, Sterling says that he and his team do not know if the recording is legitimate. But they do know that the comments are not emblematic of his views of African Americans.
“Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings,” the statement reads. “It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life.”
The statement also rebukes Sterling’s girlfriend, V. Stiviano, for allegedly releasing the recording, saying she is embroiled in a lawsuit with his family, the report says.
“We do know that the woman on the tape—who we believe released it to TMZ Sports—is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family, alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even,'” the report says.
The controversy erupted Friday after TMZ released a stunning recording of a man believed to be Sterling berating Stiviano, who is black and Mexican, for posting images of minorities on her Instagram account. That includes NBA legend Magic Johnson. He also asked her not to bring African Americans to his games.
“Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to promo…broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” the man says.
While the NBA has launched an investigation into the comments, outraged NBA players, fans and sports analysts have called for Sterling to be suspended and sanctioned.
Magic Johnson took to his Twitter account to condemn the remarks.