(The Today Show) On Friday, TMZ Sports released an audio recording of what it claims is Donald Sterling telling his girlfriend that he does not want her bringing black people to his games, particularly Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
Sterling audio: http://tmz.me/1rxQUFE
As an adviser to the NBA Player's Association, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson spoke with commissioner Adam Silver over the weekend to convey the players' position regarding the controversy following a conference call with representatives from each team.
"It's a defining moment in the history of this league,'' Johnson told Matt Lauer on TODAY Monday. "I am very confident that the commissioner will act in the best interest of the players, the owners and the league, and I feel like the only way to do that is to do the most severe sanctions possible, and I do expect him to do that in short order."
On the audio, a man TMZ claims is Sterling speaking to girlfriend V. Stiviano, makes statements such as, "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?" The man also goes on to say, "You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that...and not to bring them to my games."
Stiviano is also castigated on the audio for uploading a photo of herself with Magic Johnson on Instagram and told not to bring Johnson to Clippers games. Through her attorney, Stiviano told NBC News that the audio is legitimate but that she did not release it to any news outlets.
"All players feel that these comments were reprehensible and unacceptable,'' Kevin Johnson said.
“I believe once commissioner Silver does all his due diligence and gathers the information, he has to come down hard,'' Magic Johnson said on ABC's "NBA Countdown" on Sunday. "He shouldn’t own the team any more, and he should stand up and say ‘I don’t want to own a team anymore.’”
In speaking with the player representatives, Kevin Johnson conveyed their concerns to Silver over the weekend.
"Players weighed in, and they wanted me to communicate a few important points with the commissioner, which I did,'' Johnson said. "One is, they want an immediate investigation. They want to make sure that those tapes are legitimate. Due process is deserved.
"Number two, Mr. Sterling should not be allowed to go to any Clipper playoff games, or participate in the playoffs throughout the duration. Number three, they were very clear that the player's voice has to be front and center. The players don't want to be a passive participant. They want to make sure they have a seat at the table. Number four, they want swift and decisive action, and then lastly, they want to make sure that the maximum sanction that...is allowable under the by-laws, is what he does."
Sterling has been getting strongly criticized on social media, and a pair of Golden State Warriors fans had a field day with the accusations at Sunday's game against the Clippers.
Before the game Sunday, the Clippers dumped their warm-up outfits at center court and wore inside-out shirts that concealed the team's logo. Rochelle Sterling, Donald Sterling's wife, sat court-side at Oracle Arena in Oakland but her husband was not present.
Read more: http://on.today.com/1m2BImS
More coverage on this story: http://nbcnews.to/1ixFOQB