The recording of Donald Sterling's racist remarks, eventually released by TMZ, was first sent by V. Stiviano to a Los Angeles Clippers employee 16 days earlier, according to the LA Times, accompanied by a text message saying, "No tell Mr. Sterling that I don't need anything nor do I want anything…But thanks for asking. LET THE GAMES BEGAN. . . ."
On April 9, a Clippers staffer texted Stiviano to say her normal courtside seats would be sold to someone else for that night's game. The previous month, Sterling's wife, Shelly, had sued Stiviano and put a lien on the house Sterling had bought her. Her relationship with Sterling had become strained.
Stiviano texted that it didn't matter — another regular had given her tickets. The employee texted back: "Mr. Sterling said to let me know if you need anything. We don't want to have any issues at the game."
Stiviano responded: "No tell Mr. Sterling that I don't need anything nor do I want anything…But thanks for asking. LET THE GAMES BEGAN. . . ."
Two minutes later, Stiviano sent the employee an audio file. In it, Sterling could be heard making disparaging remarks about Magic Johnson, blacks and other minorities, and how he didn't want Stiviano associating with them publicly.
Stiviano's lawyer said that she "did not make any threats," according to the report, and was not aware of the lien on her house. Stiviano said she passed the audio on to her friends for "safekeeping" and one of them could have sold it to TMZ.
The NBA's allegations against Sterling include details of a cover-up aided by Clippers president Andy Roeser, who has since been placed on indefinite leave. Commissioner Adam Silver said that "multiple team employees" said they didn't want to work with Roeser, according to the Times.
Everything that has come out from the NBA's investigation paints a pretty clear picture. The league will argue that the people at the very top of the Clippers hierarchy were well aware of the recording's existence, and tried unsuccessfully to make it go away. They obviously failed in that regard.
Sterling has until May 27 to respond to the allegations, and a hearing is set for June 3 with all of the other owners in New York. That hearing could force him to sell the team.