Despite calls for a fan boycott following racist comments from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the Clippers and Golden State Warriors tipped off to a packed crowd at Staples Center on Tuesday in Game Five of their first-round match up of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
Earlier in the day, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the NBA for life for racist comments. The 80-year-old was also fined $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed by the league.
Before the Clipper starters were announced, the video scoreboard issued a call for solidarity. It read: "To our fans, we share your heart, your courage, we stand with you. We are united. We are one."
On the Clippers official website, the words "WE ARE ONE" are posted in large letters above the Clippers logo.
On Monday, Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson, who was a starting point guard for the Clippers from 1992-1994, urged fans to skip Game Five as a form of protest.
“If it was me, I wouldn't come to the game. I believe as fans, the loudest statement they could make as far as fans is to not show up to the game,” Jackson said. “As an African-American man that's a fan of the game of basketball and knows its history and knows what's right and what's wrong, I would not come to the game tomorrow, whether I was a Clipper fan or a Warrior fan.”
According to Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News, the Warrior players had a plan to step on the court for the opening jump ball, and then the whole roster would walk off the court as the ball went up in the air. However, the plan was nixed following Silver's decision to ban Sterling.
“It would have been our only chance to make a statement in front of the biggest audience that we weren’t going to accept anything but the maximum punishment,” Curry said, according to the Mercury News. “We would deal with the consequences later but we were not going to play.”