The NBA has done everything in its power to remove Donald Sterling from his position as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, and while he’s been suspended forever from getting anywhere near team activities, the fact remains that he still technically owns the team.
And that’s going to be a problem if it’s the case as the new season approaches.
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Clippers players were uncertain of how to handle things when they initially went down, but boycotting games was definitely discussed — and it would be strongly considered once again should Sterling remain the team’s owner when it’s time for next season to begin.
From The Chris Mannix Show (via Basketball Insiders):
Clippers forward Matt Barnes joined the Show and offered his thoughts on the Donald Sterling situation, a possible players boycott and what the union wants from its new Executive Director …
CM: We have heard testimony from CEO Dick Parsons that Doc Rivers may not return if Donald Sterling still owns the team. Chris Paul suggested last week that players could boycott if Sterling owns the team. Is it realistic that Clippers players could do that?
MB: “I think so. We were very close to doing it last year in the middle of the playoffs, and it hadn’t really sunk in then. Now the full magnitude of what happened has sunk in. People feel very strong about what happened. It would be unfortunate if it got to either of those situations but I do believe both are a possibility.”
Chris Paul recently said that he and Doc Rivers “are talking about” the possibility of a boycott if Sterling is not removed in time for next season. But obviously, the league isn’t going to let it get to that, as Kurt Helin noted here previously.
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“The league reportedly has let Shelly Sterling and Ballmer know that if by Sept. 15 this is not resolved and the team is not under new ownership then the league will proceed with the vote to out Donald and re-do the sale through a blind bid (although that likely brings in less money this time around).”
I mentioned at the time that players boycotting playoff games was never a real option, essentially because players play for their own legacies above all else. But making a statement at the beginning of the long regular season wouldn’t be as impactful to their own careers, so in the unlikely event that the league is unable to rid itself of Sterling, this time around the threat of a boycott seems to be much more realistic.