V. Stiviano, the mistress of embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the woman talking to Sterling in the tape published last week by TMZ, is at the center of a national firestorm over Sterling’s repugnant comments.
On the TMZ tape, Sterling tells Stiviano not to bring black people to Clippers games, and not to post photos on Instagram of her with black people, including NBA legend Magic Johnson.
The fallout from the conversation culminated in NBA commissioner Adam Silver banning Sterling for life from the NBA, fining him $2.5 million and attempting to force Silver to sell the team.
Here’s what you need to know about Stiviano:
1. On the Tape, She Calls Sterling Out for Being a Bigot
In the tape, Stiviano, who is part black and part Mexican, repeatedly presses Sterling about the hatred he has for racial minorities and points out multiple times that she has a “mixed” racial background.
She actually begins the recorded portion of the conversation by saying she wishes she could change the color of her skin. Sterling says the color of her skin “isn’t the issue,” but that she shouldn’t broadcast her association with other minorities.
You can listen to the recording above.
Some of the most outrageous comments from Sterling include:
It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?
You can sleep with [black people]. 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.
2. Stiviano & Sterling Were Arguing About an Instagram Photo She Took With Magic Johnson
The controversial conversation centered in part around a photo the 31-year-old Stiviano posted of her with the Lakers legend on her Instagram page, which went public on Sunday after previously being set up as a private page where only people granted permission could look at photos.
TMZ first published the photo of Stiviano with Johnson and a second shot of Stiviano with Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp (below), who is also black.
Both photos were taken down from Stiviano’s Instagram page after Sterling complained about them. An additional audio recording, published Sunday by Deadspin, includes Stiviano telling Sterling she figured it was OK to post the photo with Kemp because he’s light-skinned and biracial.
Watch the Deadspin video below.
3. She’s Being Sued by Donald Sterling’s Wife
Stiviano is identified as the defendant in a lawsuit filed last month by Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, who accuses Stiviano of being a “gold digger” and is seeking to recover money and gifts she says her husband gave Stiviano with money jointly held by the couple.
Sterling also allegedly gave Stiviano $1.8 million to buy a duplex on West 4th Street near the Beverly Center last December, according to the suit, which claims that Sterling additionally provided her with $240,000 for upkeep and living expenses.
Stiviano’s lawyer told TMZ Sunday that Stiviano will not fully cooperate with NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s investigation into Sterling’s comments because it could get in the way of her defense against Rochelle Sterling’s allegations.
The lawyer, Mac E. Nehoray, also told TMZ that the audio recording published Friday is legitimate and is one hour long. Nehoray told the site that Stiviano did not release the tape.
4. She’d Been Recording Conversations With Sterling at Sterling’s Request
One of the biggest questions to emerge in the immediate aftermath of the tape was whether Sterling knew he was being taped during his conversation with Stiviano.
TMZ answers that question as follows: Sterling not only knew he was being taped, he actually asked Stiviano to tape him, and he did so frequently, in part because he would often forget pieces of conversations and use the tapes to refresh his memory.
TMZ also reports the two got into an argument after Stiviano refused to sign a confidentiality argument regarding the tapes.
Meanwhile, ABC Los Angeles staked out Stiviano’s L.A. home on Monday morning and caught a glimpse of Stiviano walking her dog — while talking on her cell phone and wearing a face mask (pictured above.)
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Stiviano was named Maria Vanessa Perez until 2010. According to a court petition obtained by the Times, Stiviano wrote that she had not been fully accepted because of her race.
5. Sterling Is Banned for Life from the NBA
Amid intense backlash from players, coaches and fans, Silver announced Saturday that the NBA was investigating the comments and will move swiftly with some kind of action. Silver then announced Tuesday that he was banning Sterling for life from NBA functions, fining him $2.5 million, and encouraging NBA owners to begin the process of forcing Sterling to sell the team. (Watch Silver’s announcement in the video above.)
An array of basketball greats and politicians held a joyous press conference in Los Angeles after the announcement. The event included Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former Phoenix Suns star point guard who served as a liaison between the players and Silver during the investigation; Lakers guard Steve Nash; and Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
If the league succeeds in forcing Sterling to sell the team, among the potential owners is Magic Johnson, who has an ownership stake in the L.A. Dodgers and once had an ownership stake in the Lakers.
The move came after days of extraordinary backlash from every corner of the NBA and every corner of American culture.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is black, has spoken out against the comments, as have an array of players including LeBron James, who said Saturday he thinks there’s no place for Sterling as an NBA owner.
The Clippers took part in a silent protest against Sterling before their playoff game Sunday against the Golden State Warriors, throwing their Clippers warmup shirts onto the floor at center court before the game and warming up wearing inside-out shooting shirts to hide the team’s logo.
Rivers, who the Clippers lured away from the Boston Celtics before the 2013-14 season, told ESPN Sunday he’s not sure what it will take to get him to return for a third season in light of Sterling’s comments.
Some of the most articulate criticism came from Charles Barkley, who urged Silver to take swift action Saturday during TNT’s NBA playoff coverage. Watch the video below of Barkley, host Ernie Johnson and analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith discussing the comments.
Even President Obama, who was speaking Sunday at a press conference in Malaysia, weighed in on Sterling’s remarks, telling reporters that “when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to say anything, you just let them talk,” according to CNN.
On the next page, find out why the U.S. government sued Sterling for racial discrimination (and watch Snoop Dog’s epic F-bomb rant).