Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Sarver condemns alleged comments by Donald Sterling


The racially-charged conversation alleged to be between Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend have hurt the Los Angeles Clippers on the court. A silent protest by the players prior to their last playoff game against Golden State made their opinions obvious, if they weren’t already. And Doc Rivers has wondered aloud how he’ll get his team focused.

The argument about how fans or players or coaches should react is less important than wondering what can be done at the ownership level. The people who can do the most to address racism in the sport of basketball — this is the basic discussion wherever this specific and complicated Sterling case stands — must react.

Suns owner Robert Sarver has done that, joining Michael Jordan, among others, in condemning any NBA owner who might have a racist perspective. From The Arizona Republic’s Paola Boivin:

“I would rather not be partners with somebody who has the views that were expressed on those tapes,” Sarver said.

“This viewpoint should be one that is shared by both players and owners in our league,” he added. “At the end of the day, we’re in this business together.”

According to Boivin, Sarver spoke with Suns players about the issue in a teleconference since the audio recordings were posted by TMZ and later by DeadSpin.

Former Phoenix Suns guard Kevin Johnson is leading the players’ union through what he called a “defining moment for the NBA.” People are quick to say this will be a defining moment in the early days of commissioner Adam Silver’s career as well.

But what’s most true is that the owner’s have the most power. While this whole story is far from being completely understood, what is important is for the owners to decide what goes and what doesn’t.

Whether that audio recording is of Sterling or not isn’t clear yet. What is becoming more clear is that owners won’t stand aside and turn the other way if there is a racist among them.

A number of NBA owners have joined Sarver by publicly addressing the situation.

Paul Allen of the Portland Trail Blazers: “The kind of statements attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling, if true, are abhorrent, and not acceptable for the owner of an NBA franchise or anyone in professional sports. We at the Trail Blazers reject any and all such sentiments, and believe NBA leadership should take swift and impactful action in this case.”

Pacers owner Herb Simon: “I want our players, our coaches and everyone in our community to know that I believe statements attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling are appalling, offensive and totally contrary to my core beliefs and everyone in our entire organization. I am confident that Commissioner Adam Silver, who will speak tomorrow, and his staff will exercise due diligence on behalf of the National Basketball Association, its players and our fans and arrive at a solution that addresses the seriousness of this situation.”

Joshua Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers: “Without question, discrimination in any form is unacceptable and has no place in the National Basketball Association or anywhere else in society. The comments were hurtful and outrageous, and in no way reflect the values and beliefs of myself, our ownership group or the Philadelphia 76ers organization.”

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss: “The comments and sentiments expressed on the tape are reprehensible and disturbing, and certainly are the opposite of how the Lakers feel about the league’s players and fans. I have full confidence that Adam Silver and the NBA will handle this situation appropriately.”

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  • Foreveris2long

    Good for Sarver in taking a stance. In my humble opinion, it is not a time to be reserved or silent. Ithink forcing Black employees to work for someone who allegedly thinks of them as second class citizens, should be met with stern opposition. Could you imagine going to work daily knowing the person who owns the company is outspoken about his /her views that certain classes of people are not as good as he/she is?

    In my opinion if he said these things, he is despicable and should not be allowed to employ anyone in the NBA nor prosper from owning and managing such an entity. I doubt the bylaws address the situation but if playing in the NBA is a privilege, shouldn’t owning a team also be a privilege that can be revoked for engaging in conduct detrimental to the team and league?

    It is great to see KJ being an advocate for the players and NBA community. He is well spoken, insightful, influential and resourceful. I can only hope the economic sanctions will be severe enough to compel Sterling to sell.

    Congrats Sarver

  • EBJM

    Sterling has always not liked people of color. He made the $3 million he used to buy the Clippers buying and flipping L.A. properties and became know as a slumlord.

    The timing of his latest little rant is conspicuous to say the least considering Magic has just come out saying he will be looking to purchase the Clippers with Guggenheim money.

    Vanessa started the issue by posting pictures of herself and Magic on Instagram. She has had some sort of relationship with Sterling since the 2010 Super Bowl. She must have been aware of his views on Blacks.

    After tolerating Sterling for 30 years, the NBA is just now going to possibly force Sterling out after he finally decided to build a winner? The Clippers are currently worth $575 million according to Forbes. He paid $13 million back in ’81.

    The Clipper’s Director of Basketball Administration is Sterling’s son-in-law Eric Miller. He just came out and publicly denounced Sterling as an ignorant racist. Miller is married to Sterling’s daughter, Joanna Sterling Miller.

    Sounds like Sterling’s family is positioning themselves to continue running the Clippers without dad. He is 81 years old. He should just step away and let his daughter and her husband take over.

    Here is a very interesting view by THE Donald (Trump):
    http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24543443/donald-trump-calls-sterling-girlfriend-girlfriend-from-hell

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    I was so saddened to hear the comments of Sterling.

    Collin Cowherd is always praising the NBA players for having the best record of conduct–by far, among baseball, football and basketball players.

    Sterling should be forced to sell the team (if the NBA bylaws allow it), and suspended from attending any NBA games until the sale of the team is complete.

    The NBA should take over in running the day to day operations of the Clippers until he leaves or is forced out.

    I am white, and guys like Sterling are an embarrassment to the whole human race. Just disgusting.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    This is a very sad situation to be having in the year 2014

    Sterling has an attitude that is common among people with narcissistic personality disorder, something i know about first hand

    both my mother and brother are narcissists, and both of them would agree with the terrible, offensive comments Sterling has said, or is alleged to have said

    i ended up moving 1,500 miles away to Washington State just to get away from them

    Sterling has a long, well documented history of having these kinds of problems

    just ask Baron Davis, who he was heckled from the court by Sterling for years

    this is a similar situation to Marge Schott of the MLB Reds years ago.

    The owners, and adam silver, have to do something about Sterling, because this is unacceptable.

    Have the NBA come in and take over, or appoint someone, or whoever.

    Also, shame on Donald Trump for saying sterling was set up by a “girlfriend from hell”

    people who have those kinds of opinions should not be in positions of authority

  • GoSuns

    There is word on a bylaw that allows the owners to vote him out with 3/4 vote, regardless Adam silva makes his press conference tomorrow

  • Luka

    It’s obvious what Sterling said is awful. But what we need to keep in mind here is how these circumstances took place. It’s not as if Sterling released these statements publicly or said them in a workplace environment. The woman recording this nonsense is clearly playing Sterling. For her to leak this to tmz is just wrong. It’s bad judgment on Sterling’s part but that woman is clearly trying to profit here.

    Sterling at the bare minimum should be given a chance to apologize and do some type community service outreach program for African American citizens. I don’t know if taking his team away is really the right answer here.

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    GoSuns, what is a 3/4 vote? does that mean 75 percent of the owners have to agree to be able to vote him out?

    Can you clarify if you know?

  • Ellensburgbballfan

    enough powerful people are mad at this, that i doubt Sterling will get away with just some community service slap on the wrist type of stuff

    personally, i hope he sells the team, Sterling has rarely had this team in a position to be successful, and he has owned this team since 1981, so we are going on 33 years here

    if its proven he said those statements, he needs to be removed, end of story

  • Foreveris2long

    Luka, I respectfully disagree. Irrespective of the source there is no dispute Sterling is a business owner who has expressed his views on Blacks. While he did not say this in the Board of Directors meeting of the business entity, these comments are the most direct form of racial animus a business owner can have. In my opinion being a part of the NBA is a privilege, not a right. This is consistent with reports that with 3/4 approval from NBA owners, the NBA is empowered to terminate a franchise.

    I personally do not think an organization like the NBA can have an owner with those viewpoints be a part of the association. Not only would it be a recipe for disaster from a PR standpoint but the next time a black employee applicant who was qualified for the position was denied the position that was ultimately given to a non-Black, the association and the Clippers would be a sitting duck for litigation, including punitive damages. Not to mention a Black employee who sues the Clippers and the NBA after being fired for something non-Blacks are not fired for (disparate treatment).

    In my opinion an apology and community service would prove woefully shy of the action the NBA has to take. Further, considering his wife has allegedly been involved in racially discriminatory conduct with regards to the apartments in or about 2006, I hope steps are taken to divest both Mr. and Mrs Sterling of any interest of the Clippers. The bottom line is the NBA has to take take substantial steps to rid itself of anyone who clearly expresses his racial animus toward a group of people.

    I read this morning the NBA believes it has credible evidence it is in fact Sterling on tape.

  • vtsunrise

    I love it when you get all lawyerly on us, forever… I respectfully appreciate it, as well as your views.

  • Foreveris2long

    Thank VT. I know sometimes I am just a geek but I cannot help it. I cannot wait for the draft and free agency to begin so we can talk future Planet Orange basketball.

  • vtsunrise

    Forever, my last two girlfriends were both lawyers. The last one is also an affirmative action officer. This language sounds pretty normal to me! :)

  • Foreveris2long

    VT be careful. Talking with an intelligent woman coupled with intimacy can result in her controlling your NBA thoughts.. Actually I think you are a lucky guy. Just my opinion but I think intelligent women can be sexy. I am going to discuss this further with EBJM in Vegas in July.

  • Luka

    A voice recording and an owner is gone just like that. Why couldn’t it have been Sarver?