Donald Sterling has come out swinging, with the Clippers organization right behind him ... saying he and his team don't know if the audio TMZ Sports released is legit ... but he says it does NOT reflect his views toward African-Americans.
Sterling and the Clippers organization tell TMZ Sports, "We have heard the tape on TMZ Sports. We do not know if it is legitimate or if it has been altered."
The statement goes on ... "We do know that the woman on the tape -- who we believe released it to TMZ Sports -- is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family, alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would 'get even.'"
And the statement goes on, "Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life."
And there's this: "He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them."