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Bengals vets applaud Clippers players

4/28/2014

CINCINNATI -- You had to have been cut off from social media and television all weekend to have missed the latest bombshell that's hit the sporting world.

Since late Friday, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been the talk of sports journalism, television news, Twitter, Facebook and any other form of information-dissemination that you can think of. An audio tape surfaced featuring a voice, alleged to be Sterling's, that makes racially offensive comments to a woman who purportedly is Sterling's girlfriend.

The comments have set off a firestorm in the NBA, where the playoffs have just begun, and beyond. On Monday, they were being discussed in the Cincinnati Bengals' locker room.

"It's tough for the Clippers players," Bengals receiver A.J. Green said.

There were calls on social media and elsewhere for Clippers players to stage a boycott of Sterling and not play in Sunday's playoff game at Golden State. Family members of some players were reportedly even encouraging them to take the bold stand of simply walking away from the season.

"That's a tough decision of whether you're going to play or not, or if you're going to play for somebody who makes those kind of comments," Green continued. "But I feel like [Clippers coach] Doc Rivers, he's a guy who really handled that whole situation well. I think they'll be fine."

Rivers said Sunday that he hasn't spoken with Sterling since the comments came out.

"Really no need right now," he said, "at least for me."

Clippers players decided to play in Sunday's Game 4 and to show their solidarity with their city -- not Sterling's franchise. Just before pregame warm-ups, they met at midcourt and took off the warm-up shirts that prominently bear the team's logo with the word "Clippers" across the chest. They left those shirts in a pile at midcourt while they warmed up. They also wore team warm-up shirts, but flipped them inside out so the logo wasn't visible. As the road team in the contest, they wore road jerseys that happened to feature the words "Los Angeles" instead of "Clippers."

Speculation Monday has raged about whether Sterling will be nudged out of basketball by new league commissioner Adam Silver or his fellow owners.

Bengals offensive tackle and team NFL Players Association rep Andrew Whitworth applauded the players for coping to a difficult decision, but said he felt he would have done otherwise. He wouldn't have played Sunday.

"Those [players] were put in a horrible position to play or not to play," Whitworth said. "In this day and age in America, that kind of hate and that kind of idea should not be allowed or tolerated. It stinks players were put in that position where they really had to decide whether they wanted to play in the game or not and represent what they don't believe in. As a player rep, that's the part that is pitiful."

Los Angeles lost 118-97. The Clippers host Golden State in Game 5 on Tuesday.

When asked whether the situation hit home for him, Green reflected on the reason he plays: his teammates. His sentiments echoed ones made Sunday by Clippers guard Chris Paul.

"When you're in this locker room, a lot of players, we play for each other," Green said. "We go through all the training camps and all that stuff, all the blood and sweat and tears together. We play for the guys in the locker room. We don't play for anybody else."