Clippers' Dunleavy, Sterling mend fences during phone call

Updated: January 25, 2008, 3:15 AM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- After griping about each other through the media earlier this week, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy and owner Donald Sterling spoke on the telephone Wednesday and apparently patched things up.

"Everything's good," Dunleavy said before the Clippers played Sacramento. "I had a good conversation with [Sterling] today, and overall I think I made him feel comfortable and he made me feel comfortable. Anyway, it's all good and we're going forward."

Two days earlier, Sterling -- who normally doesn't give interviews -- told the Los Angeles Times: "I want to make L.A. fans proud of this team, but if [Dunleavy and general manager Elgin Baylor] can't make it happen, then I have no choice but to make changes ... That's why I'm paying [Dunleavy] the money I am."

Dunleavy fired back in Wednesday's paper -- saying he was "shocked" by Sterling's remarks and added that firing him "would be the biggest mistake [Sterling] ever made. It's his team and he can do whatever he likes ... but look, you can find any coach you want, bring him in here and run the situation. But I don't think they are going to do as good a job as I do."

On Wednesday, Dunleavy insisted he and Sterling have no problems with each other.

"We're both frustrated about the losses and we both spoke out of frustration, but we're on the same page," Dunleavy said. "I know he committed and wants to do whatever it takes to win, and I'm certainly committed. I feel much better about where we are."

Dunleavy, who is in his fifth season with the Clippers, was in the final year of a four-year, $10 million contract when Sterling gave him a four-year, $22 million extension on Dec. 13, 2006. The Clippers were eliminated from postseason contention on the final day of last season. Dunleavy is still owed another $17 million by the club.

Although the Clippers have played all season without Elton Brand and Shaun Livingston and appear to be a long shot to make the playoffs this season -- they entered Wednesday 10 games behind Golden State for the eighth and final Western Conference berth -- Dunleavy isn't worried about his job status, particularly after this latest chat with Sterling.

"Basically, he said he's a long-term guy, he believes in me and he's got confidence in me, and I feel the same way about him. That's why I took the job," Dunleavy said.

About 2 hours before tipoff, a couple hundred season ticket holders showed up and were given a pep talk by Dunleavy, play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler and team president Andy Roeser. Dunleavy told the fans: "Anybody who gives up their tickets is making a big mistake. You're sure to regret it."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press