‘Clipped’ Episode 3 Recap & Ending Explained: How Does Shelly React To The Scandal?


The new FX sports drama series Clipped brought to light the elaborate scandal in 2014 that led to the downfall of erstwhile Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and a strong effort to drive out racism from the NBA. In the first two episodes of the show, we were introduced to Donald Sterling, the aging owner of the Clippers franchise, who was always a controversial character. But what he did not expect was for his secretary-cum-mistress, V Stiviano, to leak conversation tapes in which he blatantly expressed his horribly racist beliefs and prejudices. This week’s Clipped episode 3 deals with the immediate repercussions following the leak, especially on the Clippers team, as they prepare to play a crucial fourth game in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Spoiler Alert

Why does Coach Rivers want his team to cancel the boycott?

Donald Sterling’s obnoxiously racist comments, telling his mistress V Stiviano to not put up pictures with Black celebrities, essentially asking her to not mingle with people of color, were already out in public as TMZ had published the tape recording. Within hours, similar reports were published on other news platforms, and the racist nature of the Clippers owner became public knowledge. Clipped episode 3 begins with a scene in which the president of the team, Andy Roeser, notices a cleaning staff member listening to the audio clip, which symbolizes how rapidly the news spread, and Roeser also fears immense consequences coming the team’s way. The head coach of the team, Doc Rivers, is also tremendously angry about the whole situation, and he immediately wants a response from Roeser regarding it. Having guessed that this would exactly be his reaction, the principal keeps himself out of reach of Rivers’ phone calls as long as he can.

Meanwhile, Doc Rivers tries to analyze this sudden and unwanted scandal and the effects it has started to have on the Clippers team, which is playing in the first round of the NBA playoff series. He naturally does not want his players to be distracted and taken over by this frenzy, but he also rightly feels that Sterling’s bigoted nature should not be entertained for long. Amidst his repeated attempts to reach Roeser and ask for some clarification, the coach is contacted by the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, who tries to understand the situation from the perspective of the senior coach in the league. While this shows that the NBA organization is already acknowledging the tape and is concerned about it, too, it does not ascertain that Sterling will be punished immediately. This is because Silver has been the commissioner of the league only for a few months, having recently replaced the longest-serving man in the position, David Stern. Therefore, taking an immediate step is also risky for Silver’s own personal reputation, as he will have to pick sides so early in his job tenure. 

But the situation gets worse for Rivers and his team, for they start to feel the pressure of extreme scrutiny as the public and journalists try to pick out some reaction from the players. Since the players and the coaching team are always the front faces of any sporting organization, they are the ones expected to give reactions first, as they are way more accessible to the public than the board members or the millionaire owners. Therefore, the hotel where the team has been staying, in Oakland, for the next game against the Golden State Warriors, is swarmed by fans and reporters, all looking for some comments or reactions from the players that they want to report. Blake Griffin is asked by two fans to call the team owner, Sterling, a racist bigot, and his confusion is taken as support for the man. Similarly, Chris Paul is photographed wearing the team jersey while going to a practice session, and he is considered to be a supporter of Sterling. On the other hand, DeAndre Jordan posts an indirect message on Instagram of a black square and then mentions that he does not want to play in the upcoming game. Coach Rivers easily sees how his team is suddenly in extreme disarray, and he calls for a private meeting with all the players to come up with some solution.

Before this meeting can take place, Rivers is finally able to confront Roeser, whom he finds eating breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, and approaches with some stern words. Roeser’s character is portrayed as someone who is clearly not strong enough to question his boss, Donald Sterling, about anything. Perhaps because he is the closest connection between Sterling and the Clippers team, that is what has made him this way, but Roeser always wants to avoid any confrontation or even any mention of matters that he considers difficult to speak about. Despite so much time having passed since the release of the tapes, he had not spoken to Sterling about it, and it is only upon the stern insistence of Rivers that he finally approaches the owner with some serious business. Doc Rivers wants Sterling to respond to the incident so that some pressure is lifted off the players’ backs, but he is unable to judge how problematic the team owner actually is. When Sterling is asked to choose from a series of official responses that Roeser prepares for him, he picks the one in which he denies that the voice heard on the tape is his own. 

It is very obvious that this statement would not be believed by anyone, meaning that the players would still face pressure, and so Coach Rivers turns his attention towards them. He can feel that players like DeAndre Jordan and Matt Barnes want to boycott the game, as they believe that they should not be earning money for a man who is so openly discriminatory against the black community. Others, like Paul, expressed the conflict that he felt inside because the Clippers were finally in a position where they could bring favorable results to the court. For a number of years at a stretch, the Clippers were considered the laughing stock of the league, and it was only now that a batch of extremely talented players had come together and their prospects looked very bright. There is also confusion as to how long the team should boycott, whether to throw away the entire series and, therefore, the whole playoff tournament, in order to protest against their bigoted owner. This is not a very serious consideration, and thus, Doc Rivers steps in to motivate his team to play.

Coach Rivers uses the examples of Jesse Owens, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos, three athletes who used their positions on the winners’ podium in the Olympic games, to put across their personal messages of advocacy for what is right. Owens had refused to perform the Nazi salute at the 1936 Olympics, despite being surrounded by Nazis all around since the event was being held in Nazi Germany. Smith and Carlos were photographed on the Olympic podium in 1968 with their hands raised in support of the advocation and practice of human rights, along with protesting against the prevalent racism in the United States of America. While all of them had spoken out against the injustices of the world, they had done so after giving their all during their performances and earning the limelight first. He urges the Clippers team to cancel the boycott and play the upcoming game instead, win the series, and then use the platform to lash out against racism.

The Clippers team agrees with their coach, and the players, including Jordan, decide to step onto the court that evening. They do perform a symbolic protest, though, as they wear their training kits inside out, with no logo of the team on their chests. This shows the world that they are playing for themselves as a unit and not for the abhorrent owner of the Clippers team, Donald Sterling. In fact, Sterling even makes an attempt to go watch the game at the stadium, and it is again Coach Rivers who stops this from happening, as it would be even more scandalous. Unfortunately, the Clippers could not match the performance of the Warriors on the night, and they lost the game by quite a margin, making the series tied at 2-2.

Why does V. Stiviano have a falling out with her friend?

Clipped episode 3 also shows V. Stiviano’s reaction to the whole incident, which is perhaps even bigger and more scandalous than what she had thought it would be. Her front yard is swarmed by reporters and gradually even by supporters, who find confidence in what she has just done by ousting the powerful Donald Sterling as a racist. V also has to face an interrogation conducted by the NBA investigators, in which she tells them about what exactly happened between her and Sterling. However, Clipped also reminds us that despite her actions causing problems and discomfort for a real villain of society, V Stiviano cannot really be hailed as a hero, at least for the time being, because of numerous shortcomings in her own character. 

To begin with, Stiviano’s desire for revenge against her employer was because he had refused to be of benefit to her financially when she wanted to buy a house, and she now realizes that this can soon be used against her in court. Therefore, she conveniently deleted all the audiotapes that mentioned her monetary relationship with Sterling. But what is even more concerning is her falling out with her closest friend, Deja, who also happens to be a lawyer by profession. Deja had always been by V’s side through thick and thin, but she now grows irritated by her behavior in certain regards, particularly because she feels that her friend is misusing the attention she is getting. Deja believes that since V is getting the attention of the masses through all the tabloids and magazines, she herself should speak out about how racist Sterling is and how much people should be made to face the consequences of their actions.

However, V refuses to take this stance, to the point of even stating that she was not the one to have leaked the tapes since her name was not officially involved with the matter and the leak was done through TMZ, who did not mention her identity. This statement seems to ascertain that V still wants to take favors from Sterling if possible and that she does not want to fight for any social justice in this situation. Instead, V Stiviano removes Deja from her close group and goes around performing bizarre publicity stunts solely to make a name for herself and become popular in not-so-honorable ways.

How does Shelly react to the scandal?

Although Donald Sterling still remains relatively unbothered by the scandal, for he does not believe that it can harm him in any way, his wife, Shelly, has quite a different reaction. The woman is both nervous and in denial at the same time, and this makes for a really interesting character, portrayed brilliantly by Jacki Weaver. Shelly wants her husband to let the NBA investigators do their work, and when he refuses an interrogation, she faces the questions for him. Initially, she remains fully in support of him as she pushes all the blame on the mistress, V, but this stance also changes when Donald publicly humiliates her during his 80th birthday lunch. Shelly Sterling gradually starts to distance herself from Donald, although she tells her friend that they will never get divorced. 

It seems like Shelly has started to make attempts to establish herself as the owner of the businesses, particularly the Clippers team, despite having very little direct connection with them so far. She had earlier claimed that she, too, had made investments in the team, although they had not been officially recorded, and so she now makes public appearances as the Clippers owner. She attends the game against the Warriors, although she is not given a courtside seat for obvious reasons, and Shelly is also identified and booed by the crowd in the stands. Nonetheless, she even travels on the same bus and plane as the team after the game, seemingly asserting her ownership over the group. Shelly is also seen getting back in touch with her lawyer, suggesting that she will now consider fighting against Donald legally. 

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Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

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