This story just will not go away. Neither will embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Sterling, who famously had a telephone conversation recorded with his mistress, V. Stiviano, regarding his views of her bringing black people to NBA games & not wanting her to be around them, is suing the NBA, his wife Shelly Sterling, NBA commissioner Adam Silver & the Clippers organization for basically trying to take the team away from him, as he claims that the league violated corporate law when they approved a sale of the team for former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer & that he is the sole owner of the team.
While all of the procedings are taking place in court, on the NBA court, the league could have a far bigger issue to deal with very soon. Reports came out that during the testimony in the trial with Sterling against his wife & the NBA, the appointed CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers, Dick Parsons, testified in court that Clippers head coach Doc Rivers would leave the team if Sterling were still the owner by the start of the 2014-15 NBA season.
Clearly, no one can blame Rivers for his views on the situation, as many players, executives & other employees from around the league have been incredibly offended & embarrassed by the actions & words of Sterling, not only with this situation, but words & actions in the past when Sterling was making his fortune in real estate.
If Sterling is able to keep the team somehow as the new season comes in, there is a good chance, I believe, that players, executives & other coaches around the league, especially with the Clippers, will not play in the league, thus causing a complete boycott. This is going to be the biggest situation that Adam Silver will probably have to face as the leader of the league. He has to do everything in his power to get this man out of the game, especially in a league that is predominantly African-American.
The issue that could come is that Sterling has promised to leak out information on other owners around the league & possibly throw some of the them under the bus, which if their actions are anything close to Sterling’s, then the league – as well as all major sports leagues – will need to truly sit back & reevaluate the conduct of its owners just as hard, if not harder than the actual players.
The NBA players are in an interesting position. The game is very much about star power, as opposed to the other sports where it is more of a team mentality. If LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony & others decide that they won’t play games if a certain owner is running a team, the league would have no choice but to expedite all of their processes & power to get this matter resolved. The team has always been punished in a way, as very few free agents even entertained the idea of playing for the Clippers, a tone that was far different than earlier in the season when the Clippers were the destination team to play for as many people see the team on a rise to being a consistent NBA Championship contender in the next few years.
The power of the players & employees is already showing in Rivers, who has a first-year coach with the Clippers, took the team to the second round of the NBA playoffs & worked to help make the Clippers the #1 team in the city of Los Angeles, a title that had been held by the Lakers for many years. Rivers has a tremendous amount of respect in the league. A move by Rivers to leave the Clippers organization would send huge shockwaves throughout the league & could threaten to cripple the league if the situation wasn’t resolved quickly.
When Silver made his speech that Sterling would be banned from the league & fined for his actions, it received huge praise from players & fans alike. It showed that Silver was fair & firm & wasn’t going to be intimidated by the gravity of the moment & it helped to earn the respect & trust of the players. That trust will be tested in a major way the rest of the summer & for as long as this lawsuit continues.
A big question would be what happens for Clippers players? The league has megastars on the squad already in Blake Griffin, Chris Paul & a budding star in Deandre Jordan. Sponsors showed early on in the scandal that they had no problem with pulling down their advertising dollars away from the organization.
I’m guessing that the players understand that this really isn’t all on Silver, its on Sterling because of the fact that he just doesn’t want to step down as owner of the team on sheer principle alone. He has been filing lawsuits for years, ever since he became the owner of the Clippers when the team used to be in San Diego because he moved the team in the early 80s. Silver & the NBA can only move as fast as the legal process would go, but where the NBA can take some solace is that the players could only be out for so long before the game paychecks would start to truly hurt & the division of the players’ loyalties would start to take place, similar to what happens when the leagues end up in work stoppages.
No matter what happens here, Sterling has to go, no questions asked. Hopefully, he will understand that by hanging on with these lawsuits, he is hurting the very league that he claims to care so much about & the future of the team that he supposedly loves so dearly.