SAN ANTONIO — It’s pretty easy for Commissioner Adam Silver to feel good about the state of the NBA — “The state of the game has never been better” — when one of his teams just sold for $2 billion.
That sale, of the Los Angeles Clippers from Donald and Shelly Sterling to Steve Ballmer, dominated Silver’s press conference in San Antonio before Game 2.
“We’re almost there,” Silver said of when this will be resolved. “There is this last piece, and that is the lawsuit that Donald brought against the League and me personally. I have absolute confidence it will be resolved because as part of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling, she agreed to indemnify the League against a lawsuit by her husband. So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that. While I understand he is frustrated, I think it’s over. I think it’s just a matter of time now.”
Silver said he hopes to have the Board of Governors (the other owners) vote on the sale at their scheduled July meeting and it could happen sooner.
Donald Sterling’s attorney had said he would sign off on the sale and drop his lawsuit, but has not done so yet because he thought the lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine would be rescinded.
“There is absolutely no possibility that the lifetime ban will be rescinded or that the fine will be changed in any way,” Silver made clear.
Shelly Sterling will still have a tie to the team through a charity, but Silver said this is not something with the team.
“Yes, she is going to continue to attend games,” Silver said. “There has never been a ban against Shelly Sterling. She can go to any game she wants and always could, even after Donald’s ban…
“Shelly, and I encouraged her to do this, has a right to elect that a portion of the proceeds from the sale be placed directly into a foundation in which she would have control. But in essence that’s her money. It comes from the sale of the team. It will not be a Clippers foundation, it will be a Shelly Sterling foundation or some other name she chooses. And as I said, that is something I encouraged her to do, and I hope she does do.”
• The other big topic of the Silver press conference was the air conditioning malfunction during Game 1. Silver admitted this could have been handled better, but this was an unusual circumstance.
“In hindsight it wasn’t handled perfectly, but they’d never been confronted with that issue before,” Silver said of the building crew in San Antonio. “We in the league office, and not just me as Commissioner, but I’ve been with the league office for more than 22 years now, I’d never dealt with a situation like that before….
“There was never a point where we were considering either postponing or canceling the game.”
Silver gave a timeline to the events, saying the building crew first noticed a warning light on the circuit breaker at 7:55 local time (the game tipped off just after 8 p.m. local time). The AC cut out around tip off and the it wasn’t until just before the half that the building workers realized they could not fix the problem.
• Silver praised the way the way the new CBA had helped the league’s competitive balance. But he was asked a good question (by J.A. Adande of ESPN): Is it really good for the league if the Thunder can’t keep their core together, if the Miami Heat might break up because the assembled team can’t be kept under the cap structure?
“Our goal was not to break up teams,” Silver said. “We had a transition in which the more hasher luxury tax would be implemented. But ultimately, any type of cap system in essence is a form of player sharing. So, yes, to the extent that James Harden leaves Oklahoma City and the Houston Rockets then become a competitive team, that’s a positive thing for the league. And part of the purpose of a cap system is so you don’t see too much talent aggregated in one market.
“On the other hand I don’t want to take anything away from the Spurs and the Heat. While the players are a critical component, the players were attracted and remained in those markets because of the quality of the coaching and the quality of the management, and hats off to these organizations. And my sense is the better managed organizations are going to be successful regardless of the system.”
• Silver was also asked about his push to change the one-and-done rule to two years.
“I sense there is a little bit of movement,” Silver said. “Ron Klempner, who is the executive director of the union said at a sports forum recently that it was something that the union was willing to discuss and certainly an individual, one-on-one conversations I have had with players as I travel around the league, my sense is that they’re willing to discuss it as well. The ongoing issue is that until we have a new executive director of the union, we’re not going to sit down and have any real serious discussions on the topic.”
There likely will not be on that or HGH testing until a new union executive director is chosen (that is expected to happen this fall, Kevin Johnson is leading the effort).