LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Clippers coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers says he has declined to speak to Donald Sterling with the team's owner embroiled in a race controversy and urged fans to support the players.
The Clippers play their first home game Tuesday since racist remarks purportedly by Sterling became public when they face the Golden State Warriors in a first-round playoff series that is delicately poised at 2-2.
Some fans want supporters and players to boycott the game in protest, but Rivers said Monday: "We need unbelievable support and I hope that's what we are going to get from our fans.
"I hope it's packed and people are cheering for the players. They were cheering for the players before this. If they feel differently, who's to say they are wrong? I certainly won't say that." Comments revealed Saturday by celebrity website TMZ are believed to be those of Sterling saying he did not want black people to attend Clippers games. Findings of an NBA probe into the recordings are expected to be revealed hours before the playoff showdown.
"I was asked if I needed to talk to Donald. I passed. I don't think now is the right time, for me at least," Rivers said.
"I believe he said those things but I want to make sure it hasn't been doctored. I heard what he said. Until someone tells me differently, you usually believe what people say. I will wait for that further judgment."
In the meantime, Rivers is trying to focus his players on their playoff fight for an NBA title.
His team staged a silent protest Sunday after Sterling's alleged comments, and the controversy appeared to affect them in a 118-97 loss.
"I sympathize with my players. They didn't sign on for this," Rivers said. "What bothers me the most is they are getting attacked in some ways. I feel terrible for them. I want to do what I can to make them OK.