The release of audio allegedly showing Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks to a girlfriend has outraged NBA players who are now questioning whether Sterling deserves to be a team owner.
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, chairman of the National Basketball Players Association, and a former NBA All-Star, said on "CBS This Morning," "(The players) do not feel that he represents this family, this NBA family. It's a really strong sentiment right now. I think the players' emotions went from stunned to outraged to now saying we want to be less emotional, but we want swift action, and now I think players are at the point of thinking whether or not this person is fit to be an NBA owner, and that's certainly on their minds."
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Johnson said the Clippers players -- who staged a silent protest Sunday, wearing black bands and socks and turning their warm-ups inside out and throwing them at half-court -- want "aggressive action."
"What the players feel very strongly is that they want to make sure that the most severe sanctions that are allowable under the NBA guidelines are...taking place," he said. "The players want to know what those sanctions are. Certainly it's got to be a stiff fine. Certainly it's got to be a suspension. ... The players are saying...they want the most severe penalty. They want to see what that looks like."
Clippers star Chris Paul, who is also the Players Association president, reached out to Johnson and said they need to be aggressive, according to Johnson, adding that they want him as mayor of Sacramento to aid in navigating the process.
Paul also told Johnson they're going to "band together as brothers in this locker room to go out and play for our fans, to play for each other."
Continuing to work for the Clippers is a "very difficult question" for Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers as well, Johnson said.
"(He's) an African-American head coach, he's saying to himself, 'Can I coach for this owner going forward?' Certainly every player that plays for the Clippers right now is trying to figure out what that means," Johnson said. "They want to focus right now on winning playoff games. They don't want this to be a distraction, to be a dark cloud that overshadows this unbelievable playoff that we're all experiencing. (The players' protest) is an example where you see players that are saying, 'We are not going to be passive participants. We want to weigh in and we want to be involved in the future of this league and certainly in a decision that will go down as it relates to Mr. Sterling."
the investigation will focus on authenticating the audio, originally obtained by TMZ, and "to make sure that Mr. Sterling is getting due process."
Pressed on reported accounts that people turned a blind eye to Sterling's behavior in the past -- and whether that is an accurate assessment -- Johnson said, "I don't think that's the case, but one of the questions and concerns for the players, and they had me share this with Commissioner Silver yesterday was, if he has a history of these types of actions, why was he not sanctioned or why weren't there significant consequences in the past? And that's something the players want to know."I will tell you this, going forward, there will be no player current or in the future...that will make a decision on whether or not they want to play for the L.A. Clippers without knowing who this owner is," Johnson said. "And I think that's very significant and this is where Commissioner Silver is going to have to weigh in, in my opinion, forcefully and quickly."