LeBron urges vote against Sterling

ByMichael Wallace ESPN logo
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

MIAMI -- LeBron James is demanding NBA owners follow up on commissioner Adam Silver's lifetime ban against Donald Sterling by voting to force the league's longest-tenured owner to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Miami Heat superstar was one of the first athletes to strongly condemn Sterling last weekend after a recording was released that included Sterling making racists remarks about African-Americans.

James applauded Silver's decision Tuesday to ban and fine Sterling $2.5 million for his actions, but also stressed he won't be satisfied until Sterling is removed from ownership.

"It's a monumental day and it's going to be remembered in NBA history," James said after Wednesday's practice. "But the job is still not done. It's a win, but we still need the owners to do their part."

For Sterling to be forced to sell, 75 percent of the league's teams would have to vote in favor of such a move. That means if 29 teams vote, Silver would have to get 22 yes votes. If all 30 clubs have a vote, the number needed for passage rises to 23.

The owners' advisory and finance committee, which includes Heat owner Micky Arison, will hold a meeting Thursday to discuss next steps.

President Barack Obama also supported the sanctions against Sterling, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney.

James said he understands the next step won't be easy or quick, but that's it's necessary in order for the vast majority of NBA players to continue to have faith in the direction of the league.

"With this particular case we're fighting for, I don't think it can do anything to hurt our game," James said. "We're fighting to get an owner out of our league who shouldn't be a part of our league. No matter how long it takes, no matter how much money it costs, we need to get him out of there -- and whoever is associated with him doesn't belong in our league.

"Obviously, it's not going to be night and day -- you wake up tomorrow and the team is in someone else's hands. But we need to get the next step going."

According to sources Arison, who has had differences with Sterling, is believed to be on board with forcing him out as an owner.

Milwaukee Bucks owner Sen. Herb Kohl, whose agreement to sell his team for $550 million is pending league approval, is also among a growing group of owners inclined to vote against Sterling, sources said.

The NBA confirmed to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell that it has requested that owners and senior management not make any further public comments about the Clippers and the ownership situation. Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told this to FOX Sports 1 earlier Wednesday.

There are others who believe the lifetime ban and fine are enough.

James wants to see more owners confirm that they will take action when it's time to vote.

"We still have to wait on the owners' decision, which I believe will be in favor of what we all believe in," James said. "I've seen some of the owners come out and say they're in favor of the decision Adam Silver made. But it's not all of them. We need three-fourths of them, and I've only seen, like, three or four of them comment. So we need more than three or four."

Carney said Wednesday that Obama believes the league did the right thing in response to Sterling's comments.

Obama had weighed in on the controversy over the weekend during a trip to Asia. The president called Sterling's secretly recorded comments "incredibly offensive racist statements." He also cast Sterling's remarks as part of a continuing legacy of slavery and discrimination that Americans have to constantly be on guard against.

James suggested Saturday that he might have to think about sitting out a game in protest if Silver didn't reach a quick and strong decision. He said Wednesday he's glad the players didn't have to boycott.

Several players have said there was a plan in place to not participate in Tuesday night's games had they not been satisfied with Silver's decision. James and the Heat completed a first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday and are awaiting their second-round opponent.

The two-time defending champions will face the winner of the Toronto-Brooklyn series, tied 2-2 entering Game 5 on Wednesday. The time off has given James a chance to rest a quad injury and think about the ramifications from and lasting impact of the Sterling controversy.

James said it was just a matter of time before Sterling's history of alleged discrimination and racist views would be exposed at a level that would cost him his role in the NBA.

"Who you are will come to light; you can't hide it," James said. "It don't matter how much you can fake in front of cameras or try to be someone you're not. At end of the day, who you truly are will come to light. No matter if [Sterling] said that in confinement of his family or said that by himself, he is who he is. He was that before he even owned the Clippers."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Darren Rovell was used in this report.

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