R&B star Tank has pulled out of plans to perform the U.S. National Anthem at Tuesday night's (29Apr14) Los Angeles Clippers game amid a racism scandal swirling around the basketball team's owner Donald Sterling. The businessman hit headlines over the weekend (26-27Apr14) following the emergence of an audio clip which features a man, believed to be him, voicing a number of inflammatory racial slurs.
The tape, which was obtained by TMZ.com, sparked a flurry of debate on Twitter.com, with a number of stars, including Red Hot Chili Peppers rocker Flea, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg and Kevin Hart, attacking Sterling and calling for a Clippers boycott.
Flea even urged the team to boycott Sunday's (27Apr14) game against the Golden State Warriors. Instead, players staged a silent protest during the warm-up session, wearing their red T-shirts inside out, with the logos hidden.
Retired basketball legend Earvin 'Magic' Johnson has urged Sterling to step down as the Clippers boss, adding, "He shouldn't own a team anymore."
Even L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and President Barack Obama have commented on the existence of the tape, with the U.S. leader calling Sterling's alleged comments "incredibly offensive" and "racist".
And, as National Basketball Association officials investigate the matter, singer Tank has announced he won't be performing the Star-Spangled Banner at Tuesday's game in protest.
He says, "As an African American man and artist, I must take a stand on a matter that is so deeply personal to me.
"In light of the recent disturbing and offensive allegations, in good conscience, I cannot move forward with my scheduled appearance at Tuesday's Los Angeles Clippers game."
Meanwhile, officials at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have rescinded a top honour they bestowed on Sterling in 2009 and they have scrapped plans to award the businessman a lifetime achievement prize at next month's (May14) NAACP Awards.
A statement from the Los Angeles Clippers, on behalf of Sterling, adds, "We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered... Mr. Sterling is emphatic that (sic) what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings... He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologises to anyone who might have been hurt by them."
A sports entertainment special marking the eighth annual National Basketball Players Association Awards to professional and college players. The championship series award was given to the Los Angeles Lakers and the runner-up award to the Detroit Pistons.