Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers players ran onto the floor for warm-ups for the first time in the Donald Sterling-less era with no idea how their fans would react. They didn't even know if there would be fans in Staples Center to react.

But with Drake's song, "Trophies," blaring in the background, the weary Clippers ran out to a roaring standing ovation from a packed house that nearly brought Paul to tears.

"I'm an emotional person," Paul said. "So running out for warm-ups, it took everything not to break down. That is something I will never forget forever."
It hasn't been easy to be a Clippers player since news broke last Saturday that the owner, Sterling, told a woman in a taped conversation that she shouldn't publicly display pictures taken with black people nor take them to Clippers games. The report brought anti-Sterling reaction from President Obama, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Jesse Jackson and LeBron James, among others.

Clippers players and coaches contemplated boycotting Game 4 against the host Golden State Warriors in response. Clippers players quickly decided against such action that would have evoked memories of past memorable athletic stances for blacks made by Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Jim Brown. Instead prior to tip-off of Game 4, the Clippers players opted for a silent protest by tossing their warm-up jackets with the word "Clippers" on the front, wore their shooting shorts inside out and wore black socks and wristbands.

Worn down from the Sterling news, the Clippers were hammered 118-97 in a series-tying loss to the Warriors in Game 4.

"We didn't air it out enough because Sunday we weren't as locked in as we should've been," Clippers guard J.J. Redick said. "Whether it was private conversations that guys had or with their families, guys just had to get their emotions off their chest."

When asked why the Clippers didn't boycott Game 4, Paul said: "That's something I'll probably talk about later. It crossed my mind. But we played. We play for each other. We play for our fans."

NBA Players Association vice president Roger Mason, Jr., told Yahoo Sports he is confident that the Clippers would have boycotted Game 5 if the NBA didn't have a strong ruling on Sterling. Mason said the minimum punishment sought by the players' union was Sterling being removed as Clippers owner. Without that, Mason said the six NBA teams playing in the playoffs on Tuesday were prepared to boycott their games.