The US National Basketball Association is investigating an audio tape in which a man said to be the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers makes racist remarks.
In the recording published on celebrity news website TMZ and attributed to Donald Sterling, who is 80, a male voice is heard telling a woman repeatedly not to associate with black people, and not to bring them to his games, including Magic Johnson.
Condemnation has been widespread. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has cancelled plans to give Sterling a lifetime achievement award.
President Obama intervened on tour in Malaysia.
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t have to do anything, you just let them talk and that’s what happened here,” he said.
The man on the tape is clearly upset at an online photo said to show Magic Johnson with the woman he is talking to – and with whom he appears to be close.
Responding on Twitter, the basketball legend said “LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA.”
In a joint statement, the LA Clippers and its owner say they do not know if the recording is legitimate or has been altered – but insist the comments do not reflect his views, beliefs or feelings.
They also claim the woman is the defendant in an embezzlement lawsuit brought by Sterling’s family.