Activists, civil rights groups and outraged fans both protested and celebrated outside Staples Center on Tuesday ahead of the Clippers game, after the NBA's historic censure of owner Donald Sterling over racist comments.
The team was playing in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors just hours after the NBA announced Sterling will be banned from the league for life. Sterling will also be fined $2.5 million, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday.
The sanctions - the most severe in league history - came after an NBA investigation confirmed that Sterling made racist comments in an audio recording first reported by TMZ Sports.
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NBA players and coaches, along with fans and celebrities, have expressed their disdain for Sterling’s comments on social media, while others took their voices to the streets.
"We got exactly what we called for," said Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope on Tuesday. "We demanded that the NBA suspend Donald Sterling. They did that, because in our opinion, Donald Sterling sounded more like a plantation owner than an NBA owner."
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A coalition of activists and civil rights groups, including the National Hispanic Media Coalition, NAACP, and more than 200 motorcycle and car clubs, had announced their plans to protest Sterling outside Staples Center at 6 p.m., just before the 7:30 p.m. game.
The "Los Angeles Is Better Than Donald Sterling Anti-Racism Protest and Rally" fell on the 22nd anniversary of the 1992 LA Riots.
Despite the NBA’s decision to punish Sterling, the group had said it would still protest as planned to urge him to sell the Clippers.
"In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, we have no room for a bigoted owner of a beloved team. Don Sterling must go," said Jessica Gonzalez, executive vice president and general council of NHMC.
Outraged fans on the street echoed those sentiments.
"I don't think anyone should show up to the game," said protester Lamaj Samaii. "I don't discredit the players for playing, but I look at it (as) there is an issue with the people who want to continue to show up and pay this man (Sterling) money."
Other fans were also vocal about lending their support to the team.
"We're looking forward to being there tonight to represent and to actually just give them some support and tell them that we love them and we know that everything's going to be all right from here on out," said season ticket holder Phyllis Byrd.
The Clippers released a statement Tuesday saying they "wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins."
Tuesday's game marked the team’s first at Staples since the recording surfaced April 25.
"Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life," Clippers President Andy Roeser said after the audio was posted online by TMZ Sports and extended clips by Deadpsin.
The Clippers fell to the Golden State Warriors 118-97 on Sunday, leaving the series tied 2-2.
NBC4's Toni Guinyard and Lolita Lopez contributed to this report.