Adam Silver

Through Donald Sterling’s long history David Stern did nothing. Adam Silver must act.


The first round of the NBA playoffs have been amazing — overtimes and game winners, upsets and tied series. It’s been the most thrilling first round in recent memory.

Now nobody is talking about it now — they are talking about Donald Sterling’s alleged comments to his girlfriend about black people.

It falls Adam Silver has to act in his role as commissioner to act and do it quickly and decisively — in a league so concerned about image that if a player does the “big balls dance” (ala Sam Cassell) to celebrate big bucket he gets a $25,000 fine this is a far more serious blow. Far more. This is Silver’s first big test and it’s a very public one.

The NBA is in this mess in part because former Commissioner David Stern didn’t act during a long litany of previous Sterling transgressions — some maybe not actionable by the league, but some were.

Just as a reminder, here are some Donald Sterling actions during the Stern era.

  • Sterling paid $2.75 million to settle a federal housing discrimination lawsuit, the largest sum in American history for such a suit. Testimony during that suit said Sterling (and his wife) did not want African-Americans or Hispanics as tenants and his people should try to get Koreans.
  • There was the lawsuit by former team GM Elgin Baylor — a lawsuit Sterling won — that was filled with stories such as when he told one coaching candidate “I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players.”
  • There was in that same lawsuit Baylor saying Sterling would bring female guests into the Clippers locker room to admire the players’ “beautiful black bodies.” Or the time in contract negotiations with Danny Manning when Sterling told him “that’s a lot of money for a poor black kid.”
  • He has been sued by Mike Dunleavy and virtually every former coach because once he fired them Sterling refused to pay the rest of their guaranteed contracts.
  • There was the time he was drunk with a woman on his arm at LAX to interview Rollie Massimino for the Clippers coaching job and asked “I wanna know why you think you can coach these n———-.’”
  • He had the franchise celebrate Black History Month in February by bringing a number of underprivileged youth to a Clippers game in March (aside the month error, the idea that “poor=black” was part of the impression).

That’s not a complete list, but you get the idea. This is far from the first time Sterling has embarrassed the league.

But as Roger Goodell has done with the Browns owner, as pretty much every commissioner has done with every owner in every league, David Stern did nothing. The Commissioners work for the owners and they tend to protect them. The other owners don’t push for action lest it boomerang back on them someday.

This time Silver can’t do that. If the league’s investigation finds that is Sterling on the TMZ tape he can’t stand by.

RELATED: Enablers must stop this already, writes Joe Posnanski

This has been a huge black eye for the league, one thanks to social media that has blown up in a way that some of his previous transgressions did not. Whether that’s fair or not. Whether this was is worse or not. This is the one that has become so big that President Barack Obama was asked about it during a press conference in Malaysia (where they have plenty more important things to discuss).

This is the one that rehashed a lot of his history for young NBA players that simply didn’t know (the way young people often are ignorant of history). They are now angry. A core NBA demographic is angry.

Silver has to act.

It appears the league can’t force Sterling to sell, but if that is him on the tape it may be time to push him away from the team for a while, as the MLB did with Marge Schott back in the day. Sterling loves basking in the celebrity of “his games” and his friends (and the people he wants to be his friends) coming to see his team play. Take that away from him and it’s a blow to him. It’s a start.

What Silver can’t do is sweep this under the rug. As Stern did too many times.

Pizza and soccer on agenda for Celtics on trip to Italy

Perry Jones III, Malcolm Miller, James Young, Jordan Mickey
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MILAN (AP) — After a couple of days in Milan, Isaiah Thomas‘ Italian experience is still lacking a certain something.

“I’m waiting on some pizza,” said a laughing Thomas, who used to do commercials for a regional pizza franchise when he played for the Sacramento Kings. “The place we went to last night didn’t have no pizza so hopefully tonight we go somewhere I can order some pizza for real.”

This trip isn’t just about culinary experiences, though. The Celtics are in Milan to play an exhibition game against Olimpia Milano on Tuesday before traveling to Spain to play Real Madrid as part of the NBA Global Games.

Ahead of the team’s practice session on Sunday, Thomas was also looking forward to his first soccer match, as the Celtics headed to San Siro later for AC Milan’s home match against Napoli in the Italian league – after an afternoon trip to nearby Lake Como.

“That’s going to be fun,” Thomas told The Associated Press at the Celtics’ first practice in Italy. “I’m excited about that. I’ve never been to a soccer match, to have my first soccer match be in Italy is going to be nice.”

Teammate Marcus Smart said the trip was also an important bonding experience for a young roster with plenty of new pieces. They went for a players-only meal in Milan on Saturday night.

“We had a good time with each other,” Smart said. “No phones, so everyone was talking to one other. It was good overall fun.

“We understand the severity of this trip, it is a business trip but at the same time not many people get this chance to travel like we do so we understand its business but we’re here to have fun at the same time.”

Coach Brad Stevens has overseen plenty of rebuilding since taking over the Celtics in 2013 but still led the team to the playoffs last season after trading point guard Rajon Rondo – the only remaining player from the 2008 championship team. After being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team is aiming higher this season. For Stevens, it all starts here in Italy.

“These sessions are really important to get something accomplished in practice and to make sure that we’re continuing to progress,” Stevens said. “It’s still very much a part of our training camp, and so you’ve got all of the great things about being a tourist – getting a chance to see new things and experience new things – and at the same time we’re 24 or 25 days away from our season opener.”

And after spending so many hours in the gym during the offseason, Thomas is ready to start playing actual games again – even if its just preseason.

“We’re ready to beat up on somebody else, we’re tired of beating up on each other,” Smith said.

Kings’ Karl admits mistakes in DeMarcus Cousins trade controversey

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In the NBA, elite players have the leverage. It is just simple supply and demand.

DeMarcus Cousins is an elite player — and a favorite of owner Vivek Ranadive. He is not going anywhere.

Which made this summer’s “George Karl wants trade Cousins” a battle the coach couldn’t ultimately win — the owner wasn’t going to sign off on it, and the fans are going to side with Boogie. Remember Karl said he never had a player that was untradable, and that spiraled into reports Karl probed trade options with other teams, much to the frustration of management and Cousins himself.

Karl owned up to some of his mistakes in an interview on Comcast Bay Area, as reported by James Ham at

“To be honest with you, I apologized to DeMarcus for making the trade comment that I’ve never coached a player that’s untradeable,” Karl told Christensen. “That was wrong for me to say, because you all (the media) took it and blew it up into crazy.”

“But it’s my responsibility to be smart enough to not say things like that,” Karl continued. “So I did apologize because I thought that was the only thing, maybe some other things, but really the only thing that got us separated was that comment that then everybody wrote the we’re going to trade [Cousins].”

The relationship between Cousins and Karl — not to mention Rajon Rondo and other veterans — is the biggest key to the Kings’ season. Karl and Cousins say their relationship is solid now, but what happens when that is put under stress at some point during the season?

In talking to people around the team, the Kings players seemed to have formed a tight bond — even if part of the glue of that bond is a distrust of Karl that can work for them. This is a team that has the talent to compete for the bottom couple playoff seeds in the Western Conference, but everybody needs to be pulling on the rope in the same direction. We will see pretty quickly if the Kings can do that.