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Yates: Sterling situation 'embarrasses everybody'

Sunday - 4/27/2014, 10:59pm  ET

CLIPPERS.jpg
Members of the Los Angeles Clippers listen to the national anthem before Game 4 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. The Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling. Instead, they made a silent protest. The players wore their red Clippers' warmup shirts inside out to hide the team's logo. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

WASHINGTON -- The real problem with the recent comments on race attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is that they're "really nothing new," says the Washington Post's Clinton Yates.

In an interview Sunday with WTOP's Mike Murillo, Yates, who also does commentary for WTOP weekday mornings, says the most painful part, Yates says, is "the very intense plantation politics that he discusses, in terms of who should be doing what ...

"To think that this guy has been allowed to do what he's done for 20 or 30 years ... it has actually worked to his advantage to feel this way."

Sterling isn't admitting to the comments, and a response from the team notes that the girlfriend who recorded the conversation is embroiled in a lawsuit involving the Sterling family.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers says the team briefly considered boycotting Game 3 of their playoff series against Golden State on Friday night, but quickly decided against it.

Yates says, "It's hard for me to say they should have [boycotted the game], but what I can say is, that would have had the most impact on whether or not anybody changed anything."

A forfeit, particularly in the playoffs, would mean a lot of television money would have to be refunded, and "it's the largest statement ... That is something that the league would have to take notice of."

It also would have forced NBA commissioner Adam Silver to do more than what Yates calls "a legal tapdance" -- his term for Silver's Saturday news conference.

"This is an image situation ... that the NBA simply cannot have."

Yates notes that this isn't the first time Sterling has made controversial remarks on race, and he's been accused by the Department of Justice of discriminating in his other business, as a landlord. "It simply is not an acceptable look in this day and age in America to think that someone who feels this way is allowed to be in a position of power in one of the most popular leagues in our country."

Silver's news conference was "weird," Yates says, calling it "very tone-deaf" and too focused on the legal angles of the situation rather than the image of the league. Silver, Yates adds, seemed to act as though he was unaware of Sterling's history.

"The league needs to recognize that this embarrasses everybody."

If Silver isn't in a position to address these topics, Yates says, he should simply issue statements rather than give news conferences that "insulted the intelligence of a lot of NBA fans."

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