Eyes on Silver as Sterling fallout continues
The Los Angeles Clippers have Monday off.
Adam Silver likely won’t get that same luxury.
Facing the first real crisis of his short tenure as NBA commissioner, Silver is under pressure to swiftly bring some sort of resolution to the scandal surrounding Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the racially charged comments he allegedly made in a recorded conversation, portions of which were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin.
The matter will not go away anytime soon, but the players’ association is hoping Silver rules before the Clippers play host to Golden State in a critical Game 5 of their knotted-up Western Conference first-round series on Tuesday night. That means plenty of eyeballs will remain on the commissioner’s office Monday, waiting to see if any word is coming.
“This situation is a massive distraction for the league right now,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former NBA All-Star who is serving as an adviser to the National Basketball Players Association while the Sterling matter plays out. “It must be addressed immediately.”
Silver’s first priority is verifying Sterling’s voice is on the recording. From there, Silver’s next move remains unclear. He works for the owners — and so far that group seems to have no sympathy for Sterling’s latest controversy.
Among those who have spoken out publicly to condemn the alleged Sterling remarks: Washington’s Ted Leonsis, Miami’s Micky Arison and perhaps most notably, Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, who won six NBA titles as a player.
“I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views,” Jordan said in a statement released Sunday. “I’m confident that Adam Silver will make a full investigation and take appropriate action quickly.”
Silver started as commissioner Feb. 1, replacing the retired David Stern. Silver met with Kevin Johnson on Sunday and heard five things that the players’ union wants from the commissioner, that list includes:
—Sterling doesn’t attend any NBA games for the rest of the playoffs because of the “enormous distraction.”
—A full account of past allegations of discrimination by Sterling and why the league never sanctioned him.
—An explanation of the range of penalties the league could bring against Sterling.
—Assurance the NBA and the union will be partners in the investigation.
—A decisive ruling.
“He’s got to come down hard,” Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson, who was referenced on the audio recording, said Sunday on ABC.
The NBA constitution is not public, though it’s understood the commissioner’s powers are broad when it comes to dealing with matters deemed “prejudicial or detrimental to the best interests of basketball.” A fine, a suspension, a demand for sensitivity training, all those and more are surely at Silver’s disposal.