The NBA is investigating LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for allegedly making racist comments in a recorded conversation, and the NBA Players Association wants to have a meaningful role in Sterling’s punishment. Per ESPN:
“The players wanted to ensure that Mr. Sterling does not attend any games for the Clippers or any other team for the duration of the playoffs,” Kevin Johnson, working on behalf of the NBPA, said. “We’re confident that the commissioner understood that this is an enormous distraction for everyone, and we want the focus to really be on the games and what’s taking place on the court, and he certainly understood that.”
Johnson said he wanted (Commissioner Adam Silver) to explain the range of sanctions that could be levied against Sterling if the accusations against him were true and then to see the maximum level of those sanctions used.
Johnson, who was asked to assist the players on this matter by NBPA president and Clippers guard Chris Paul, also said the players wanted the league and Silver to give them full accounting of the prior accusations of racism made against Sterling and why those were never sanctioned by the league.
In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay a record $2.725 million to settle allegations that he discriminated against African-Americans, Hispanics and families with children at several apartment buildings he owns in and around Los Angeles.
“We also believe as the players’ association it’s our responsibility to find out the history of Mr. Sterling and why sanctions did not occur,” Johnson said. “You have a dual and mutual interest in trying to understand the past, in trying to understand somebody of this magnitude and the comments that have been made.”
Johnson said the players also wanted to be engaged and considered full partners in the league’s investigation and process for dealing with Sterling moving forward. He also said the players want Silver to carry out the process “swiftly and decisively and act unequivocally.”
“We believe this is a defining moment for the league,” Johnson said. “It’s defining moment for the commissioner and a defining moment for all the players in this league.”