Before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life, Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson talked about understanding if fans refused to show up for Game 5 in the LA Clippers’ gym.
Jackson probably couldn’t imagine that his own players were prepared to boycott the proceedings. With Sterling removed from the equation, the idea of a boycott became moot, but it’s fun to imagine how the Dubs’ walk-out would have unfolded. Per ESPN and the San Jose Mercury News:
“I heard from our players and all of our players felt like boycotting the games tonight,” National Basketball Players Association first vice president Roger Mason Jr. said. “We’re talking about all NBA players. We’re talking about the playoff games tonight.”
Mason said he spoke to player representatives from every team and they were on board with the decision to boycott Tuesday’s games if they weren’t satisfied with the commissioner’s decision. The decision would have affected Tuesday’s Game 5s between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards, and the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder.
“I reached out to other players around the league and made it clear the players were ready to boycott the games if this type of action was not something that Adam Silver felt was necessary,” Mason said. “We’re happy with the decision but we’re not content yet. We want immediate action. We want a timetable from the owners as far as when this vote is going to happen.”
The Warriors were going to go through pre-game warm-ups and take part in the national anthem and starting line-up introductions. They were going to take the floor for the jump ball, dapping up the Clippers players as is customary before games.
Then once the ball was in the air, they were just going to walk off. All 15 of them.
“It would have been our only chance to make a statement in front of the biggest audience that we weren’t going to accept anything but the maximum punishment,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “We would deal with the consequences later but we were not going to play.”
The message was intentionally bold and controversial, Curry said. And if they had their way, the Clippers would have joined them in exiting the court.
The wheels were in motion until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s banishment of Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling appeased the players’ fury. And there were plans being hatched for all the games.
The Warriors’ players wanted to protest previously, but decided to give Silver a chance to do the right thing. But if Silver had announced the punishment for Sterling’s bigoted comments were an indefinite suspension and a measly fine, the Warriors were ready to make an historic statement.
Curry, David Lee, Jermaine O’Neal and Draymond Green were behind the boycott idea. The bold message the Warriors had plan was hatched at shootaround.
The idea included plans, if necessary, to reach out to the Clippers and share the plan. The hope would have been that the Clippers would join them, letting the jump ball drop to the hardwood while all the players walked off the court.