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article imageClippers owner denies being racist, may fight to keep team

By Nathan Salant     May 8, 2014 in Sports
Los Angeles - Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling denied being a racist Tuesday in a new recording obtained by a celebrity gossip website.
"You know I'm not a racist," Sterling tells a friend on the recording revealed by RadarOnline.com.
"How can you be in this business and be a racist," Sterling asks, according to the New York Daily News newspaper.
"Do you think I tell the coach to get white players or to get the best player he can get?"
Sterling was banned from the National Baskeball Association for life last month after another gossip website, TMZ.com, broadcast a recording of Sterling making racist remarks to a longtime companion, V. Stiviano.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also ordered Sterling to sell his team, a demand that requires support by at least 75 percent of the league's 30 owners.
But Sterling, in what apparently is his first public reaction to the ban, implied that he would fight any effort to force him to sell the Clippers, which he has owned for more than 30 years.
"You can't force somebody to sell property in America," Sterling says on the recording.
"I'm a lawyer -- that's my opinion," he says.
According to RadarOnline, Sterling also was upset that retired Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson didn't defend him when the racism charge was first leveled.
Sterling was heard pressuring Stiviano on the TMZ tape to stop associating with African-Americans, particularly Johnson, with whom she previously posted an online photograph.
"It breaks my heart that Magic Johnson, a guy that I respect so much, wouldn't stand up and say, 'Well, let's get the facts, let's get him and talk to him,'" Sterling says on the new recording.
"Nobody tried, nobody," Sterling says.
But another retired NBA star from Los Angeles, Elgin Baylor, who was general manager of the Clippers for 22 years and unsuccessfully sued the team for wrongful termination, said he thought the TMZ recording proved the point.
"Of course he is (a racist)," Baylor told Cable News Network, the Daily News said.
"There's no doubt in my mind, now."
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