NBPA thinks owner vote will be 29-0

ByArash Markazi ESPN logo
Tuesday, April 29, 2014

LOS ANGELES -- NBA players were prepared to boycott Tuesday night's playoff games if NBA commissioner Adam Silver did not ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and force him to sell his team, National Basketball Players Association first vice president Roger Mason Jr. said.

"I heard from our players and all of our players felt like boycotting the games tonight," Mason said. "We're talking about all NBA players. We're talking about the playoff games tonight."

Mason said he spoke to player representatives from every team and they were on board with the decision to boycott Tuesday's games if they weren't satisfied with the commissioner's decision. The decision would have affected Tuesday's Game 5s between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards, and the Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder.

On Tuesday, Sterling was banned for life by the NBA in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation. Silver also said he will try to force Sterling to sell the team. The owners have the authority, subject to three-quarters vote, to remove Sterling as an owner.

"I reached out to other players around the league and made it clear the players were ready to boycott the games if this type of action was not something that Adam Silver felt was necessary," Mason said. "We're happy with the decision but we're not content yet. We want immediate action. We want a timetable from the owners as far as when this vote is going to happen."

Mason said the players did not want to boycott games until they heard from the league but were prepared to take that drastic step if Sterling's punishment did not meet their demands.

"We didn't hear from the league yet. We didn't want to jump to conclusions," Mason said. "But we were prepared in the event that this decision didn't come down to move forward that way. We didn't think this was just a Clippers issue so we didn't want to put the pressure on Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and that team, we wanted to band behind our brothers to do the right thing and that would have been to communicate with the other teams in our league and let them know what we were going to do."

Mason watched Silver's press conference inside of Los Angeles City Hall before addressing reporters along with Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who is assisting the NBPA, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, and current and former players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Steve Nash, Norm Nixon, A.C. Green and Tyson Chandler.

"This is a defining moment in our history," Johnson said. "Throughout history, sports have played a pivotal role in advancing civil rights ... I believe today stands as one of those great moments where sports once again transcends and provides a place for fundamental change for how our country should think and act."

Johnson and Mason were not only confident the other owners in the NBA would vote to force Sterling to sell the team but they didn't think the vote would be close.

"I haven't heard one owner not support Sterling selling his team," Mason said. "I know a lot of the owners personally from spending time with them in negotiations and I would be shocked if it wasn't unanimous. I think it's going to be unanimous."

Johnson, who was with Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive at Game 4 of the Clippers-Warriors series in Oakland, Calif., anticipated a similar result when the owners vote on the matter.

"I absolutely do," Johnson said when asked if the support of the owners would be there. "Our owner Vivek Ranadive said zero tolerance. We've heard from a dozen owners who are saying the same thing."

Mason said the players hope the owners will convene to vote on Sterling's fate as soon as possible, perhaps as early as this week.

"The players haven't set a timetable but the message has been clear," Mason said. "My phone has been blowing off the hook. We want an immediate vote on the issue. Immediate. We're not quite satisfied because we want it done ASAP."

The press conference was attended by current and former Lakers such as Nash, Abdul-Jabbar, Green and Luke Walton, prompting Garcetti to say, "When you get this many Lakers to stand up for the Clippers, you know something big is happening in L.A."

"This is an astonishing situation," Nash said. "After initial outrage, disappointment and sadness, I think today is a proud moment, not only for the players association but for the NBA, and as a father of three and a member of this community I want to thank both mayors, the players association and Adam Silver for quick, unequivocal and concise decision on behalf of everybody in this situation."

Abdul-Jabbar said he and the other assembled players at City Hall clapped when they heard Silver's announcement.

"This really bothered me but I'm just thrilled with what Commissioner Silver did," Abdul-Jabbar said. "He got on the case immediately and got to the bottom of whatever mysteries there were involved in this and figured out what the truth was. His action and focus were so on the mark. It was unbelievable. You should have heard us in there when we were listening to the press conference. We all started clapping. He handled it the right way and I'm so happy he did that. It's going to be a new day here in this city and a whole lot of Clippers fans are going to have a lot more to smile about."

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