‘Clipped’ real story: Donald Sterling, V. Stiviano and the Clippers

A media-obsessed woman who wore visors and roller skates. An octogenarian billionaire with memory problems. An NBA team that nearly boycotted their playoff run.

They’re among the people and events depicted in FX’s “Clipped: The Scandalous Story of L.A.’s Other Basketball Team.” The limited series, now streaming on Hulu, follows the real-life scandal that erupted in 2014 after a voice recording of billionaire Donald Sterling and his mistress V. Stiviano was released by TMZ. In the recording, Sterling is heard telling Stiviano not to associate with Black people, including NBA superstar Magic Johnson, with whom Stiviano had been photographed before posting the image on Instagram. The outcry that ensued eventually led to Sterling receiving a lifetime ban from the NBA, forcing him to sell the Los Angeles Clippers, the team he co-owned with his wife, Shelly.

“Clipped” stars Ed O’Neill as Donald Sterling, Jacki Weaver as Shelly Sterling, Cleopatra Coleman as Stiviano and Laurence Fishburne as Doc Rivers, head coach of the Clippers and former NBA all-star point guard who played for the team in the ’90s. Last month, creator and showrunner Gina Welch spoke to The Times’ Greg Braxton about adapting events for the series: “We want this show to be fun and entertaining, but also want to make sure we are measuring and keeping alive the tragedy of the story and all it represents.”

“Clipped” uses the ESPN “30 for 30” podcast series “The Sterling Affairs” as the basis for the story.

But what actually happened when the recording was leaked? Who were the people involved? And what was the reaction to Sterling’s comments? The Times reported on the scandal extensively as it happened and the fallout that ensued. Here is a look at some of our key coverage about Sterling, Stiviano and the Clippers.

When the recording leaked

‘NBA investigates alleged racist remarks by Clippers’ Donald Sterling’

TMZ published the story about the tape at 10 p.m. on April 25, 2014, a Friday night. On Saturday, The Times published an initial news report by Ben Bolch, which said that the NBA was conducting an investigation because of “an audio recording that allegedly captures Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist statements in the course of an argument with a friend.”

‘Clippers owner Donald Sterling in firestorm over alleged racist remarks’

Later that day, Bolch wrote more extensively about the fallout from the tape. The Clippers were in the first round of the playoffs, having completed one of their best seasons, and the tape was released on the eve of Game 4 against the Golden State Warriors. According to the story, “Players considered wearing black socks or armbands in protest during Sunday’s game but worried about being viewed as radical. Center DeAndre Jordan posted a black rectangle on his Instagram account and tweeted a link to his more than 426,000 followers. Rivers said the idea of boycotting a game was raised but quickly dismissed.”

‘Anger toward Donald Sterling spreads through social media’

Outrage over Sterling’s comments ignited social media, where the hashtags #BoycottClippers and #Donald Sterling proliferated. Snoop Dogg, director Adam McKay and other prominent figures joined the chorus more. The racist comments “united hard-core basketball fans and sports neophytes, celebrities and everyday people, young and old in their condemnation of the 80-year-old Sterling.”

The people involved

‘Donald Sterling built an empire and an image; words were his undoing’

Who was Donald Sterling? In this article, written by Nathan Fenno, Kim Christensen and James Rainey, we get a picture of a lawyer and real estate mogul people described as eccentric, who “always lived in his own world”: “Sterling had worked hard to create his own reality, spending millions on newspaper ads promoting his real estate empire, his charity work and himself — even as his Clippers were perennial losers and he was accused in lawsuits of discriminating against minority tenants whose rent payments helped make him rich.”

‘Sterling’s wife describes alleged mistress as gold digger in lawsuit’

An article by Bettina Boxall detailed a lawsuit filed by Shelly Sterling against Stiviano, which outlined the affair and gifts that Donald Sterling gave his mistress. Shelly Sterling alleged that Donald bought Stiviano “a 2012 Ferrari, two Bentleys and a 2013 Range Rover, worth a total of more than $500,0000” and he also gave “$1.8 million to buy a duplex on West 4th Street near the Beverly Center last December” along with “$240,000 for upkeep and living expenses.” The suit states that the gifts were made without Shelly Sterling’s knowledge or consent, and she was seeking their return along with compensatory damages.

‘The women in Donald Sterling’s life’

This story by Harriet Ryan and Victoria Kim further details the lawsuit between Shelly Sterling and Stiviano while explaining who the women are and how they were connected to Donald Sterling. Stiviano met Donald Sterling at a Super Bowl party in 2010 and said “she never had a sexual relationship” with the billionaire, who underwrote her lifestyle. As for the relationship between the Sterlings, they’re described as “dedicated business partners who worked hand in hand to amass a real estate fortune during their 59-year marriage. On a personal level though, theirs was not a storybook union.”

‘Donald Sterling sanctioned: Adam Silver moves to eject Clippers owner’

At the time the scandal unfolded, Adam Silver had been the NBA commissioner for less than three months. His decision to issue Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA, which had to be approved by three-quarters of the league’s owners, eventually led to the sale of the team. Silver handed down a $2.5 million fine, the maximum allowed, and the punishment also meant “the 80-year-old Sterling cannot attend any NBA games or practices and is not allowed to inhabit any Clippers facility or participate in any business or player personnel decision involving the team.”

‘Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer wins Clippers bidding war for $2 billion’

On May 29, 2014, Steve Ballmer put in the winning bid for the Los Angeles NBA franchise. According to the article by Rainey, “The sale price would be almost four times the previous NBA franchise high: the $550 million paid earlier this month for the Milwaukee Bucks. It is the second highest price ever paid for a sports team in North America. The Dodgers sold in 2012 for $2.1 billion.”

Bonus viewing: The TV interviews

Barbara Walters interview with V. Stiviano

Stiviano spoke to Barbara Walters on the ABC News program “20/20” about the recording and her relationship with Donald Sterling. Yes, she did describe herself as his best friend, confidante and “silly rabbit.”

Shelly Sterling also speaks to Walters

Days later, Shelly Sterling spoke to Walters, telling the news anchor that she was “shocked” by what her husband said and that he should apologize. Sterling also revealed that she thought he had the beginnings of dementia and said she planned to divorce him (they’re still married to this day). Walters asked Sterling if she thought Donald Sterling was racist, to which she replied, “I have never heard him say racial things … But as far as a racist, I don’t really think he is a racist.”

Donald Sterling on ‘Anderson Cooper 360’

Sterling sat down for an interview with Anderson Cooper 10 days after Stiviano’s interview with Walters. His most notable statements came when he said, “I’m not a racist” and he wanted to “apologize and ask for forgiveness for all the people I have hurt.” But then Cooper asked Sterling about Magic Johnson’s comments on the scandal, in which Sterling said he “was hurt, but that it doesn’t matter,” before proceeding to say that Johnson “made love to every girl in every city in America and he had AIDS.” (Johnson is HIV-positive and does not have AIDS.)

[title_words_as_hashtags

Leave a Comment