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Jeff Van Gundy on D&C: ‘Suspension coming’ if it’s Donald Sterling on tape

04.28.14 at 11:20 am ET
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ESPN/ABC basketball analyst Jeff Van Gundy joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the controversy around racist remarks that allegedly came from Clippers owner Donald Sterling. To hear the interview, head to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

In an audio clip released by TMZ on Friday, Sterling, who has a history of discriminatory behavior, allegedly told his girlfriend not to bring African Americans to his games.

“I think, obviously, he hasn’€™t come out and said, ‘€˜I did not say that,’€™” Van Gundy said. “To me that probably means he did say that, and, if he did say that, then I think there is a suspension coming.

“But after the suspension, to me, however long it lasts — whether it’€™s the rest of the playoffs, a full year, whatever the commissioner views the punishment — my next question is, then what? Then he comes back? Or do the owners have a way to force him out? Or does the league have a way to sort of have him forced out or transfer his ownership to his kids or his son-in-law who I think is in the organization? I think the ‘€˜What’€™s next’€™ is more compelling and more complex than the initial discipline if they find that is his voice and it wasn’t a doctored or altered tape.”

During Sunday’€™s Clippers game against the Warriors, the team staged a silent protest by wearing their warm up shirts inside out to hide the logo and wearing black armbands, wristbands or black socks.

“I think everybody has to do what they feel is the right thing to do, but I wouldn’€™t have tried to dissuade them if players would have come to me and said, ‘€˜I don’€™t feel right playing,’” Van Gundy said. “That’€™s a normal feeling, and I wouldn’€™t have tried to dissuade them from that feeling. I thought Doc (Rivers) handled the situation really, really well. I was disappointed in a couple players throughout the league who said, ‘€˜I can’€™t speak to it. I’€™ve been told by my team not to speak.’€™ I was disappointed in that. I just think there are very few times as an athlete that you have the power to speak on something that truly matters and when you bypass that, you bypass a responsibility that I think the public has entrusted you with which is make a stand. Let me know what you believe.

“I thought the Clippers handled themselves well. Doc handled himself great, and you just don’€™t know what the next shoe to drop is, but here’€™s my thing … Let’€™s say Donald Sterling’€™s suspended for a bit and then he comes back. Why would you force players to play for someone that has these beliefs? Or a coach to honor his contract/ I just don’€™t think that would be the correct stance.”

Van Gundy spoke with members of the Clippers organization last year about potentially coaching the team.

“Without question,” Van Gundy said, “Donald Sterling and his background and how he’€™s treated coaches and people in general certainly had an impact on my feelings about not going forward with those talks.”

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