Clippers coach Rivers declines chance to speak with Sterling

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Rivers Believes Sterling Made Comments

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he declined a chance to speak with owner Donald Sterling, who is alleged to have made racist comments in a recorded conversation.

"I was asked, do I need to talk with Donald, and I passed, quite honestly," Rivers said Monday. "I don't think right now is the time or the place, for me, at least. I just took a pass."

Sterling is purported to have told a woman not to bring black people to his games or associate with them.

"Yeah, I believe he said those things. But I still want to make sure," Rivers said during a conference call. "As far as believing those things? I heard what he said. Until someone tells me differently, you usually listen to what people say. I haven't given him his due process. I haven't given him an opportunity to explain himself and quite honestly right now I don't want him to. I want to wait for that further judgment."

The coach canceled practice Monday, a day after a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors that evened their playoff series at 2-2.

"I just felt like they needed to breathe. They've been inundated with this," Rivers said.

Still, he said pretty much the entire team was at the club's practice facility.

"I'll go down and say hi to them and talk to them, make sure they're in the right place. Right now it's more than basketball. This is a non-basketball decision that I thought I had to make and I thought it was right decision. If you get your life better, then you can probably do your work better. They need to do that."

Game 5 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

"These last 48 hours or so have been really hard for our players and everyone," Rivers said. "I'd just like to reiterate how disappointed I am in the comments attributed to our owner. I can't tell you how upset I am, our players are."

Warriors coach Mark Jackson suggested that Clippers fans should boycott the game.

"I believe if it was me, I wouldn't come to the game," Jackson said. "I believe the fans, the loudest statement that they can make as fans is to not show up to the game. ... To me, it will make the noise of it not being tolerated. That this is a different time. It's unfortunate, and we cannot allow someone with these feelings to profit."

Rivers said he knew Jackson was speaking from his heart and that everyone has their opinion.

"I don't share that. I hope it's packed and people are cheering for us, the players. And they were cheering for the players before this happened. But if they feel differently, who can say they're wrong? And I'm not the one that's going to say that, I can tell you that."

Rivers said it's still to be determined whether he or a player will address the crowd.

"Again, we don't know the right answer," Rivers said. "We want to do right here. We want to make the best decisions here. If we feel that's something will help our fans, then it will be done. If we feel it's something they don't need, we won't do it. The tickets have already been sold. The fans, they're in a dilemma as well. We want them to cheer for their players and their team. Because it's still their players and their team, and it will be their players and their team. I think from what I get from the fans I've heard from, that's how they feel, like, `This is my team, these are my players I'm cheering for, and that's not going to change.' I hope that continues."

Rivers said the controversy has been tough on his players.

"What other players are going through `Should I be playing' thoughts in the middle of a playoff series? I sympathize for my players. They didn't sign on for this. Yet here they are and they're in the middle of it and they have to deal with it. They didn't do anything wrong and they're in the middle of it, and they didn't ask to be. I feel terrible for them. I'm going to try to do whatever I can to make them OK."

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Clippers coach Rivers declines chance to speak with Sterling
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Citigroup chief executive officer Richard Parsons listens as President Barack Obama, not pictured, addresses Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies, at a hotel in Washington, Thursday, March 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends the NBA playoff game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, April 21, 2014 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said April 26 that the NBA is investigating Sterling for alleged racist comments. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
AOL/Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons helps announce a new partnership to produce "Showtime at the Apollo" variety show Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2002, in New York's Harlem neighborhood. Earlier Wednesday, AOL Time Warner Inc. announced it is buying out AT&T Corp.'s stake in their cable television, moviemaking and programming partnership for an estimated $8.5 billion to $9 billion.(AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 1: Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling and Rochelle Sterling, attend a game against the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center on April 1, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Chris Paul #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers tosses a basketball to team owner Donald Sterling during a game against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on February 13, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
In this photo taken on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, right, watch the Clippers play the Sacramento Kings during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to Stiviano. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling watches his team play in Los Angeles. A jury has returned a $17.3 million verdict against Sterling in a lawsuit by an actress who lost most of her belongings in a fire at a West Hollywood apartment building he owns. City News Service says the jury awarded $15 million in punitive damages to Robyn Cohen on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2012, in her breach-of-contract and emotional distress lawsuit. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, center, and V. Stiviano, left, watch the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, April 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, center, sits with his wife Rochelle during the second half of their NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 106-93. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling attends the NBA basketball game between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday, March 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife Rochelle during the Clippers NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Nov. 12, 2010, in Los Angeles. The Pistons won 113-107.(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his wife Rochelle look on during the second half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball playoffs Western Conference semifinal against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, May 19, 2012, in Los Angeles. The Spurs won 96-86. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling, right, sits with his wife Rochelle during the first half of the Clippers' NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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