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Redick: Donald Sterling ‘Didn’t Want To Pay Me Because I Was White’

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J.J. Redick #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers drives against the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, Calif. (credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

J.J. Redick #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers drives against the Golden State Warriors in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 3, 2014 in Los Angeles, Calif. (credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

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DURHAM, N.C. (CBS Charlotte/AP) — Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick says that owner Donald Sterling was hesitant to sign him last summer because he’s white.

Speaking to USA Today, Redick went into detail about how his four-year, $27 million sign-and-trade deal almost fell apart despite being initially agreed upon.

“I’ve been told both ways: one, that he didn’t want to pay me because I was white, and that he didn’t want to pay me because I was a bench player,” Redick, the former Duke University star told USA Today. “I didn’t know until after the face. I just got a weird phone call from Doc (Rivers) on July 4, and I got off the phone and said to my wife, ‘Something’s going on.’ He’s like, ‘You better play for me (expletive).’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s the plan. We figured this out two days ago, right?’

Redick continued: “And then he just rambled a bit … but he never really got into the nuts and bolts of what was happening. And then I got a call about 48 hours later from my agent, and he said, ‘We wanted to keep you out of it, but here’s what happened.’”

Sterling reportedly almost nixed the Redick deal because of the $52 million he doled out to white center Chris Kaman, who averaged only 11.8 points per game for the Clippers before being traded to the New Orleans Hornets in 2011.

Despite the stories he heard about Sterling, Redick wanted to come to the Clippers to play for Rivers.

“I came here for Doc. I came Here for Chris (Paul) and Blake (Griffin),” Redick told USA Today. I looked at this incredible opportunity for me on the basketball court, but also from a personal standpoint. I looked at this as there were great people in the organization, and it’s been backed up by that. I think you’ve seen that over the last week, regardless of one person’s opinion, you’ve seen that throughout the organization.”

Redick said Sterling’s comments caught on an audio recording pissed him off.

“[I]n the days after, it was the first time in my life where I was conscientious of the fact that the people I was talking to were black or Asian or Mexican,” Redick told USA Today. “I don’t look at people like that, so to hear those things come out of someone’s mouth, it pisses you off.”

Rivers said employees on the team’s business side considered not working for the franchise after Sterling’s racist comments were exposed.

Rivers met with team employees who were still upset and angry Friday morning, several days after Sterling was banned for life from the NBA.

“What I witnessed today, you realize this thing has touched a lot of people,” Rivers said hours later at the Clippers’ training complex in Playa Vista. “The people that didn’t do anything are being harmed by this, and I wish we could find the right solution, and I don’t have it.”

Rivers continued: “They really haven’t had a lot of people talking to them. It was really hard to see them. I didn’t realize. Ticket people, marketing people, and they’re sitting there crying, and I felt so bad for them. I was thinking, ‘My God, we’ve been in this thing as players and as the coaches.’ You forget that these are the people that are on the front line, and they work for the organization, too.”

Rivers has been on the Clippers’ bench for less than a year, but the veteran NBA coach and player has emerged as the public face of the franchise during Sterling’s ouster. Rivers also is the Clippers’ senior vice president for basketball operations, giving him a voice in personnel decisions.

Sterling acquired the coach from the Boston Celtics last June in a trade for a first-round pick in the 2015 draft, signing him to a contract paying him a reported $7 million per year.

Rivers won an NBA title in 2008 and reached two NBA finals during nine seasons as the Celtics’ coach. He coached just over four seasons with the Orlando Magic before taking over in Boston.

He also had a 13-season playing career for four franchises, even playing one season for Sterling with the Clippers in 1991-92.

Rivers refused to meet with Sterling shortly after the comments were made public, openly acknowledging his personal conflict about continuing with the club. He has been praised for his frankness and leadership during the crisis, but Rivers is reluctant to take credit.

“I don’t know if I’m doing a good job,” he said. “I’m just doing my job. We didn’t know this was coming. Last time I met (with team employees) was before the season, and we talked about our goals as a group, being a championship team and a championship organization. They just felt like now, we’ve been knocked back down and we have to start all over again, and I told them, ‘Yeah, you’re right, you do.’ There’s no quick solution to this. … We’ve got to redo it, and I told them that.

“I told them I want to be there for them as much as I can, but it’s hard.”

The Clippers will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Semi-Finals beginning Monday.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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