Adam Silver brought the hammer down on Donald Sterling — and that made the NBA’s players and its union very happy.
“Today, the players believe the commissioner has done his duty,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, representing the union, at a press conference in Los Angeles (televised on NBA TV) minutes after Adam Silver’s press conference ended. “On this day Adam Silver is not only the owners’ commissioner, he is also the players’ commissioner, and we’re proud to call him our commissioner.”
It what seemed like more a pep rally than press conference at points, Johnson and a series of former and current players — Steve Nash, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and more — praised Silver for giving Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban, fining him $2.5 million and starting a process that will force the sale of the team from his hands.
“Throughout history, sports has played a pivotal role in advancing civil rights — Tommy Smith, John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics. Great leaders like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Arthur Ashe, Jason Collins and our very own Jackie Robinson,” Johnson said. “I believe that today stands as one of those great moments, where sports once again transcends. Where sports provides a place for fundamental change on how our country should think and act…
“The players spoke, they acted and they were listened to.”
Kobe Bryant put it this way.
In case you thought the union didn’t have any teeth behind its requests, union executive committee member Roger Mason Junior said if Silver had soft-pedaled this there would have been a boycott tonight.
“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,” MasonJr.,. “I’m happy to come here today and say that as players we are very happy with the decision, but we’re not content yet. We want immediate action, we want a timetable form the owners as to when this vote is going to happen, 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.”
MasonJr., the only one who sounded like a union leader on this day, asking for followup.
But in a league that was facing sponsors bolting and a potential player revolt, Adam Silver stood up strong. And the players have his back.