TORONTO - NBA players might be enemies on the court, but they are united off it.
That's why the Toronto Raptors say they'll make a gesture of support for the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night over the Donald Sterling controversy.
"We're united. . . You've got to respect that," said Raptors all-star DeMar DeRozan. "That's the great thing about us. Society is not in that place anymore. You see guys from all different cultures, all different parts of the country, different parts of the world all coming together as one. Comments like that are uncalled for."
The Raptors will join a chorus of support from around the league when they host Brooklyn in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference series at the Air Canada Centre. Sterling, the longtime Clippers owner, was banned for life by the NBA on Tuesday in response to racist comments he made.
DeRozan wouldn't specify what the Raptors' silent protest might entail, but it will likely be similar to Miami's. On Monday night, the Heat ran out of the tunnel in their warmups, huddled at centre court and tossed their white jerseys to the ground. They wore their red warmup shirts inside out, hiding the team logo.
Sterling's comments outraged players around the league when the story broke last Saturday. The Raptors were in Brooklyn between Games 3 and 4, and the story was the topic of conversation during the team's bus ride to practice.
"We live in a society where we're much past that," DeRozan said. "From the comments that Sterling said, we're much bigger than that. The game came a long way and society came a long way to take three steps back."
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said the NBA "is a brotherhood."
"It's not many of us, it's a fraternity, we all support each other," Lowry said. "That's what makes the NBA and professional sports so special. . . on the floor we're enemies but off the floor we're all brothers."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver also fined Sterling US$2.5 million, in the first moves toward forcing a sale of the Clippers and permanently removing Sterling from the league.
DeRozan said that nothing less than Sterling's removal is enough, adding players can't feel comfortable playing for an owner like him.
The Raptors were among numerous teams that chimed in with their support of their league commissioner.
"As a proud member of the National Basketball Association, we stand strongly in our belief that the comments attributed to Mr. Sterling have no place in our society or sport," the team said in a statement. "Our organization will always work to contribute to a culture of diversity and acceptance in this league and fully support the actions taken today."
Raptors coach Dwane Casey said it was unfair to question players about the controversy while they're in the midst of the playoffs.
"It's unbelievable that someone would say that in 2014," Casey said of Sterling. He added: "For me to have to stand here and talk about this when we have a game (Wednesday) night speaks for itself. I'm consumed with (Wednesday) night, but still, what happened last week is real and affects all of us."
The Raptors and Nets are tied with two wins apiece in the best-of-seven series. The series heads back to Brooklyn for Game 6 on Friday. Game 7, if necessary, will be in Toronto on Sunday.