On Saturday the LA Clippers host the Golden State Warriors in game seven of their first round playoff series, however the series has been overshadowed by a racism row that has rocked the NBA.
On Friday, April 25th TMZ Sports released a recording of a conversation between the Clippers owner, Donald Sterling and his female friend V. Stiviano, in which it is alleged that Sterling made a series of racist comments.
Two days later, the Clippers were due to play game four of the series, but talks were held about the team boycotting the game. This didn’t happen and the team instead opted to wear their shirts inside out to obscure any reference to the LA Clippers brand during the pre-game huddle. On Sunday, the Miami Heat players also opted to wear their shirts inside out in a show of solidarity with the Clippers. A series of star players both past and present also came out in condemnation of Sterling’s remarks, including LeBron James, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Charles Barclay and Magic Johnson.
On Thursday 29th April, the NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that Sterling would be banned for life from the NBA and fined a total of $2.5 million, the maximum fine the NBA can impose – one of the most severe punishments imposed on an owner of a US based Sports team. Adam Silver also stated that he would force Sterling to sell the Clippers.
This story is currently bigger than the game itself, however, there is an NBA Championship to be won in the coming weeks, and the scandal may have had an effect on the Clippers chances. Before the scandal broke the Clippers led the series 2-1 in a series they were expected to win – the Clippers being the number three seeds as opposed to the Warriors who were seeded six. However, the series is now tied at 3-3, with the Warriors securing a final game with a dramatic one point victory in game six. Game seven takes place on Saturday evening at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Defending Champions the Miami Heat currently hold favoritism for the championship at a best price of 7/5 after sweeping the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round of the playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs are second favorites at a best price of 11/4, the Spurs leading the Mavericks by three games to two. The most intriguing game of the weekend sees the number one seed Pacers face off against the Atlanta Hawks in Indiana on Saturday in another game seven decider. The Pacers are a best priced 22/1 to win the Championship prior to this game.
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