The audio recording, obtained and put online Friday by TMZ, captured Sterling telling his girlfriend that he did not want her bringing black people to his basketball games.
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people," Sterling says on the tape. "Do you have to?"
The argument took place on April 9, according to TMZ, after Sterling's girlfriend, V. Stiviano, posted a photograph on Instagram of herself posing with NBA legend Magic Johnson. On the tape, Sterling also told Stiviano not to bring Johnson to games. A spokesperson for the NBA called Sterling's comments "disturbing and offensive" in a statement to ESPN.
"We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by TMZ," NBA spokesperson Mike Bass told ESPN. "The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information."
Sterling's comments had received widespread condemnation by Saturday afternoon. Johnson himself reacted to the recording, vowing not to attend another Clippers game while Sterling remains owner, and calling the comments a "black eye" for the NBA.