NBA players, fans react to Donald Sterling ban

The ex-girlfriend of LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling said she wants to be president.
April 30, 2014 9:33:49 AM PDT
Before Tuesday night's Game 5 in Los Angeles, there were threats of boycotts by both the fans and the players, along with promises of protests outside the Staples Center. But all that faded into the background once NBA Commissioner Adam Silver handed Donald Sterling an unprecedented punishment for making racist comments in a recorded conversation.

Silver banned the Clippers owner from the NBA for life, fined him $2.5 million, and called on the other owners to force Sterling to sell his team.

Just before the Clippers hosted the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of their first round playoff series, the two head coaches spoke of their mutual satisfaction and relief that the Donald Sterling saga is at least partly resolved.

"I thought Adam Silver today was fantastic," said Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. "Personally, I thought he made a decision that really was the right one, that had to be made."

Warriors coach Mark Jackson added, "I thought it was absolutely incredible. I thought he hit it out of the park with the way he took control of the moment."

Sterling is banned for life and may be forced to sell his team. Whatever happens, his hateful words have sparked a conversation that many believe needs to happen.

"I think it united fans together, Clippers and Warriors, to stand for what's right," said Warriors fan Michelle Lee.

Despite the harsh punishment, there were some protesters outside the Staples Center Tuesday afternoon before the game.

"Chris Paul and all, Blake Griffin, all them boys, he called you all a slave, millionaire slaves. But you've got us out here wanting to do y'all groundwork," said protester Jerry Carr.

Fellow protester Nathaniel Shaw added, "I don't have a ticket, and I wouldn't go to the game, I'm sorry."

Many let the words on their t-shirts do the talking. Shirts were being sold displaying love for the Clippers on the front and a four letter word with a finger on the back, directed at Sterling.

"I'm just trying to express myself, that's all," said t-shirt seller Norman Mark.

For others, the anger was tempered with a measure of satisfaction.

"What we're happy about is that the actions were swift and precise. And it, once again, allows us to feel as though we have been made somewhat whole," said another protester.

Past and present NBA players applauded the lifetime ban imposed by the commissioner.

"His actions and focus were so on the mark, it was unbelievable. You should've heard us in there when we were listening to the press conference, so we all started clapping," said NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

"I believe that today stands as one of those great moments where sports, once again, transcends. Where sports provides a place for fundamental change on how our country should think and act," said former NBA star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

The Warriors issued a statement applauding Tuesday's decision.

In it, co-owner Joe Lacob said: "We cannot tolerate such feelings or beliefs, not only in the NBA, but in society in general. There is absolutely no room for racism in our world, period."

Silver said his response Tuesday was as a human being. Even though he has known Sterling for more than 20 years, he was shocked by the racist comments caught on audio tape. Silver is confident he will be able to force Sterling out of the league.

"I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him," he said.

On local sports radio, the calls kept coming about the sanctions the commissioner imposed.

"I think most people, and especially that we live in such a diverse community, that they're disgusted by what Donald Sterling said," said 95.7 The Game radio host John Lund.

Others worry about the impact on the game.

"I just hate the fact that this is overshadowing the playoffs. That's all I got," said caller John.

The penalties are the harshest ever handed down to an owner in a professional sport.

Andy Dolich has been in the industry for more than three decades including a stint as president of the Warriors. He believes the lifetime ban is appropriate.

"Players get traded. Players get released. This is one of the few instances where an owner is being released," he said.

The latest figures show black players make up 76 percent of the league. And Silver said the NBA has historically taken a leadership role in race relations. Dolich thinks the scandal has served as a teachable moment.

"I think one of the incredible messages that comes out of this, is the debate that has occurred on Main Street. I mean, this is a basketball that bounced out of the arenas in the NBA to across the country," he said.

Silver said Sterling has not shared any feelings of remorse with him.


Load Comments