NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke. And Clippers owner Donald Sterling is no more. For now.
In his 2 p.m. EST press conference Tuesday afternoon, Silver announced that he has decided on a lifetime ban for Sterling, whose blatantly racist comments toward his reported girlfriend became public late Friday evening, when TMZ released audio of their conversations.
Finally, Clippers fans can breathe. Donald Sterling will be out as owner of the franchise he’s run since purchasing it for $12 million in 1981. But even after a lifetime ban, effective immediately, and a $2.5 million fine, the maximum fine the commissioner can impose, it may not be easy to rid the NBA of its most despised owner.
There are plenty of positives here for the Clippers, who have been under the reign of one of American sports’ worst owners for more than three decades. For starters, Adrian Wojnarowski’s report from earlier Tuesday morning, which claimed that Clippers coach Doc Rivers may find his way out of Los Angeles if Sterling continued his role as team owner, now seems to be obsolete. And on top of that, Clippers fans finally get what they’ve been waiting for all these years: a new regime.
We’ve been talking about culture change within this organization ever since the Clippers traded for Chris Paul, but we probably jumped the gun multiple times while having that conversation. We still saw signs of these being the same old Clippers, even as this team was piling up win after win. There was Sterling picking up Vinny Del Negro’s option after the 2011-12 season. There were the rumors that he shot down the J.J. Redick signing, because, as we learned from Wojnarowski on Tuesday morning, Sterling didn’t want to pay $7 million for a white player. The cheapness still showed in spots. Clearly, so did the racism, which had shown in multiple lawsuits and comments in the past. In many ways, the culture hadn’t completely switched. Now, this organization finally has a chance to progress on all levels.
Still, though, it’s possible that Sterling will contest any ruling that forces him to sell the team, as FOX News’ Jim Gray reported Tuesday afternoon. But this shouldn’t be shocking, right? This is Donald Sterling. This is the man who seems to love being Clippers owner, for whatever reason you may think, more than anything. He’s not the personality to relent. He may no longer be an ambulance chaser in profession, but he’s still one at heart. And let’s remember that even with this lifetime ban already in place, and with Sterling unable to attend any Clippers games, practices or board of governors meetings with the other NBA owners, he isn’t being forced to send the team someone else’s way just yet.
Though Adam Silver did seem confident about his prospects of getting votes, 22 of the 29 other NBA owners still need to vote in favor of requiring Sterling to sell in order to make that happen. There could be some lawsuits in the NBA’s future, and it would probably be prudent to predict that Silver will have to go through the rough before he can get to the green on this one.
For now, Andy Roeser will run the Clippers organization, as USA TODAY first reported. If anyone has been around long enough to take over the day-to-day activities, it’s Roeser, who has held the role of team president since 1986.
The Clippers will hold a news conference, themselves, at 5:45 p.m. PST before Game 5 of their first-round series with the Golden State Warriors.