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Donald Sterling: Was 9-minute taped audio a setup by girlfriend V. Stiviano?

Donald Sterling, the owner of NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, is being lynched for recorded racist comments made to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano. Listening to the nine minute and 26 seconds audio recording which was published by TMZ on April 25, makes one wonder though – was this for real or was it a setup?

Donald Sterling: Was 9-minute taped audio a setup by girlfriend V. Stiviano?
Photo by Ronald Martinez

According to TMZ’s report, TMZ Sports obtained the audio conversation between Sterling and V. Stiviano, who is identified as GF (Girlfriend). The heated argument between the two was allegedly recorded on April 9, but the recording itself has not been authenticated, and TMZ does not provide any information about the recording other than “L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling told his GF he does NOT want her bringing black people to his games ... including Magic Johnson ... and it's ALL on tape.”

Unfortunately, the media does not wait for the authentication of a private conversation between a couple but jumps on a bandwagon that sells headlines. TMZ Sports alone has received almost one million YouTube views for the tape. Undoubtedly, a lot of money for a recording to which there is little authenticated background information.

For those who are unfamiliar with sports and who might be wondering who Donald Sterling is, he has been the longest-tenured owner in the NBA since the death of Lakers majority owner Jerry Buss on Feb. 8, 2013. While the Clippers owner was born in Chicago in 1934, his family moved to Los Angeles when he was two years old.

Having graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles in 1952, from California State University in 1956, and from the Southwestern University School of Law in 1960, makes Sterling a true California boy -- and it is clear why he lives in Southern California. “He's got celebrity, money and the freedom to do as he pleases, in basketball and in business,” writes ESPN.

What Sterling does not have is privacy and the right to have an argument with his girlfriend. The recording of Sterling and Stiviano still needs to be authenticated, but it shows what Sterling’s actions have shown as a landlord in the past; he distinguishes among races. “For more than two years, Sterling has been staring down federal civil rights charges related to his real estate holdings and rental practices. According to the Justice Department, Sterling, his wife and three of his companies have engaged in discrimination, principally by refusing to rent to African-Americans.”

The topic of African-Americans, specifically Magic Johnson, was the subject of the private conversation between the Clippers owner and his girlfriend which has caused so much uproar. Apparently, Sterling’s girlfriend posted on her Instagram page a picture of her and Johnson, and Sterling got all upset about it.

Listening to the audio tape carefully makes one wonder whether the Clippers owner was jealous or prejudiced when he said, "...Don't put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games." (9:13)

What makes it interesting to listen to the alleged recording is paying attention to who uses the words “African-American,” “black people,” and “minority.” Most of the time, the words are spoken by the women, not by the man.

In response to the uproar about the recording, “Donald Sterling has come out swinging, with the Clippers organization right behind him ... saying he and his team don't know if the audio TMZ Sports released is legit ... but he says it does NOT reflect his views toward African Americans,” reported TMZ in a follow-up report on April 26. “Sterling and the Clippers organization tell TMZ Sports, ‘We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered’."

“The statement goes on ... We do know that the woman on the tape -- who we believe released it to TMZ -- is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family, alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would 'get even'."

As to the question whether Donald Sterling was set up by his girlfriend V. Stiviano or by some other woman, an authentication of the recording needs to be conducted. In the meantime, the Clippers owner can only do what other California celebrities do in such cases -- apologize. “He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them."

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