Warriors vs. Clippers Was A Playoff Series For The Ages

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The Sterling Controversy Erupts, All Hell Breaks Loose

Feb 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (right), V. Stiviano (left) and Monique Spencer (center) during the game against the Houston Rockets at the Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Rockets 106-96. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The story broke late on the night of April 25, the Friday before Game 4. The minute I saw it pop up on my Twitter feed, I knew this was not something that would just quietly pass over. I knew this was something big, and that all hell would break loose.

After all, it isn’t every day that the owner of a professional franchise is caught on tape complaining about black people and berating his girlfriend for “associating with blacks.” It was a 10-minute video of Clippers owner Donald Sterling arguing with his girlfriend V. Stiviano.

“You can sleep with [black people],” said Sterling on the now infamous tape released by TMZ. “You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne wrote a terrific behind-the-scenes story on the incident and what followed. As the news spread, the Clippers hunkered down in a team meeting. They considered boycotting Game 4, but decided against it. Instead, they staged a symbolic protest against their racist owner, turning their warmup jerseys inside-out and wearing black socks and armbands.

Game 4 – GSW 118 – LAC 97 (Series tied 2-2)

Obviously distracted by the Sterling controversy, the Clippers had little chance of winning Game 4. They looked like a team that, according to ESPN, had spent a total of thirty minutes game-planning for the game.

Stephen Curry actually played like Stephen Curry, knocking down seven threes and scoring 33 points in the blowout win.

But from this point on, the series would be overshadowed by Donald Sterling. You see, the Warriors did not win Game 4 because Curry got hot. They did not win because Andre Iguodala had his best game as a Warrior with 22 points. They did not win because they played better than the Clippers. In everyone’s eyes, they won because the Clippers were distracted, because Donald Sterling decided to interject his bigoted, disgusting opinions in the middle of one of the best first round matchups in NBA history.

That was the sentiment after Game 4, and that will probably be the same sentiment when we look back at it in 20 years.