Once corporate sponsors started pulling out and other NBA owners started lining up against him, Adam Silver had the motive and backing to come down hard on Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling for his racist comments.
If he hadn’t, NBA players would have boycotted the three playoff games scheduled for Tuesday night.
That’s what NBA players union vice president Roger Mason Jr. said at the union’s press conference Tuesday shortly after Silver’s announcement.
“Additionally 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,” Mason Jr. said. “I’m happy to come here today and say that as players we are very happy with the decision.”
Clippers’ players had already talked about a stronger statement being needed, this is what they likely meant.
Silver had to act because Sterling’s words on a private conversation had blown up into the biggest black eye for the league since the Malice at the Palace brawl where players went into the stands to punch fans. A player boycott would have blown that up to another level.
Mason Jr. also said the union wants follow up from Silver.
“We want immediate action, we want a timetable form the owners as to when this vote is going to happen,” Mason Jr. said. “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.”
The Donald Sterling situation is far from over, but for now Silver has avoided some of the most public protests from players we would have ever seen.