CHICAGO — Players and coaches reacted positively in unison to the punishment handed down by NBA commissioner Adam Silver to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday.
Sterling received a lifetime ban from the league and a $2.5 million fine for his racially charged remarks that were made public Saturday by TMZ. Silver also said he would move swiftly to bring NBA team owners together to force Sterling to sell the franchise.
Judging from the reaction, the league might not have much of a problem getting the required two-thirds of the owners to vote in favor of such a move.
“We completely support Commissioner Silver’s decision today regarding Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and praise him for his prompt investigation and action,” Chicago Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said in a statement. “The Commissioner was correct to ban Mr. Sterling from all official NBA business, to levy the stiffest allowable fine, and we will support his recommendation to press for Mr. Sterling to relinquish his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise. We believe Commissioner Silver’s decision reflects the best interests of the NBA and public civility.”
After Silver’s announcement Tuesday afternoon, the league’s players held a news conference and praised Silver, saying that a boycott of Tuesday night’s playoff games was considered.
“I reached out to other players around the league and made it clear that the players were ready to boycott the games if this kind of action was not something Adam Silver felt was necessary,” National Basketball Players Association vice president Roger Mason Jr. said. “I’m happy to come here today and say that as players we are very happy with the decision, but we’re not content yet.
“We want immediate action, we want a timetable from the owners as to when this vote is going to happen, but we feel confident that with Adam Silver’s urging, and obviously we’ve heard from a lot of owners around the league, we think this is something that can be handled quickly.”
Before the Chicago Bulls played host to the Washington Wizards in Game 5 of their first-round series Tuesday night, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said, “I thought (Silver) handled it great. I thought the owners did a great job, the players association and of course (Clippers coach) Doc Rivers, along with (Clippers guard) Chris Paul. I’m just glad Doc’s there running this organization. I think they did the right thing. Obviously, there’s no place for that type of behavior in our league. Adam was very strong, so I was very pleased with that.”
Wizards coach Randy Wittman said, “I think it’s great. I think Adam did great. There’s no place for that in society, period. I think the commissioner took a stance that he was sending a message, one that should have been sent. Hopefully, we don’t have to deal with something like this ever again.”
As the Oklahoma Thunder prepared to tip off against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, Thunder chairman Clayton Bennett echoed the sentiments expressed by his colleagues.
“The Oklahoma City Thunder strongly supports the decisive action taken today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver,” Bennett said. “Ours is a league of inclusion, tolerance and fairness. The Thunder organization will continue to work to foster the tenets of diversity and respect, and build on that standard moving forward.”
Owners from around the league weighed in with similar comments, including Charlotte Bobcats chairman Michael Jordan. The former Bulls star said in a statement, “I applaud NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s swift and decisive response today. He sent a powerful message that there can be zero tolerance for racism and hatred in the NBA. I’m confident that the league, our players and our fans will move on from this stronger and more unified.”
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