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Union representative Kevin Johnson calls for sanctions against Donald Sterling

Apr 27, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT

Memphis Grizzlies v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Three Getty Images

NBA players want to see something done — and done sooner rather than later.

As the NBA continues to investigate the alleged racist comments of Donald Sterling, the NBA players union called for sanctions against Sterling. They did it through the voice of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the former All-Star NBA guard and Sacramento mayor who is helping lead the search for a new union executive director and has been asked to help the union with this situation. Johnson and Silver met Sunday in Oakland.

“There must be sanctions that make it clear that the NBA family will have zero tolerance for such conduct. Today, tomorrow, forever,” Johnson said, according to ESPN’s J.A. Adande, who had other comments from Johnson’s press conference at halftime of the Clippers/Warriors Game 4.

Adam Silver said he wants the NBA to deal with this situation quickly. Johnson plans to hold him to that, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports and Scott Howard-Cooper of

As for the idea of a boycott, Johnson sided with the Clippers players saying that is not the appropriate action here. At least not yet. The union wants to give the Clippers a chance.

The league wants to move quickly on this — everybody is talking about Sterling and not what has been a thrilling, upset-filled first round of the playoffs. Every game, every media session Sterling is the question. The league needs to get this in the rear-view mirror and the focus back on games, as much as they can. The other owners apparently want this too — if Michael Jordan is speaking out you know the other owners are frustrated as well.

The challenge for Silver is the options before him. He can’t force a sale (it’s not allowed in NBA bylaws unless the owner is behind on his payments, and the Clippers are not). Plus Sterling’s MO is not to sell — not his real estate properties, not any of his holdings. Are fines and suspensions enough?

Among those watching Silver closely is now the players union.

  1. phillyguyindc - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    The trouble about this is I’m not sure what it is the league can do other than fine a really rich guy. I don’t know the ins and outs of the NBA constitution or CBA, but would Sterling be able to appeal any punishment on the grounds of it being illegal to record a conversation under California state law?

    • dondada10 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      I don’t know if Silver can force Sterling to sell but he can ban him from ever attending an NBA game ever again.

    • antistratfordian - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:06 PM

      That doesn’t really matter because the real damage that’s done from a story like this cannot be reversed. Public pressure can force him to do things that the NBA cannot.

      • 1historian - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:10 PM

        Political correctness – 1

        Free speech (although it turns your stomach) – 0

        The ONLY thing that will get this guy’s attention is an empty stadium for game 5.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:55 AM

        He is still protected by free speech. No one is coming to throw him in jail for what he said. But free speech does not mean all speech is without consequence.

    • 1historian - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:08 PM

      The ONLY language this guy understands is the ONLY language all the other owners understand:

      empty seats.

  2. psly2124 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    Hey kj how about worrying about Sacramento. You’ve put the city in so much debt bankruptcy is a very real possibility. Another Marxist who is destroying cities, families and jobs. The Saul alinsky way

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 27, 2014 at 9:16 PM

      I didn’t want to be the one that said but yeah. I have no problem with KJ getting involved with the NBA but he has been focusing more on his role with the NBA than his role as mayor of Sacramento. He needs to look at some of the issues plaguing the city, or step aside to focus full time on the NBA.

  3. jasper36 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:23 PM

    And right or wrong the only thing to take the focus off of the Clippers, and their owner. Is to get the Clippers out of the playoffs. I hate to say it, but this is how the league works. The owner should have to pay, but ultimately I think the players will suffer. Due to all of this unwanted negativity.

  4. jhb64 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    Let him buy the Knicks

  5. mungman69 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    jasper36; At least you finally found the right forum.

    • jasper36 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:59 PM

      I’m glad to know someone’s paying attention (lol!)

  6. ProBasketballPundit - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    Blog comments and words can not express how angry I am at Donald Sterling right now. I don’t really care about the racist comments; I’ve always known he’s a racist… but how DARE he ruin the playoffs like this. This is the greatest first round I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to waste great Inside The NBA coverage on a caustic old man.

    • daviddmsvcp - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:45 AM

      “how DARE he ruin the playoffs like this”

      He did not record the conversation and give it to TMZ to publish. Your rage is misdirected.

      • 00maltliquor - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:40 AM

        Interesting take. And true.

        But I’m with PBP on this one. And real talk, is this POSSIBKY the best first round of all time? I had this convo yesterday with the homies. Definitly gonna go down as top 5 all-time for me. I swear every game goes to OT or is an upset.

      • 00maltliquor - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:42 AM


  7. mungman69 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Silver can’t do “ANYTHING” about Sterling. Sterling is a rich old fart. Since he’s wealthy he can get away with this. Everyone should boycott Clippers’ games home and away.

  8. nfl4days - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    The players dont deserve to have their season ended like this.

    • nfl4days - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:40 PM

      Or the fans

    • 1historian - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:14 AM

      They take his money. He does seem to be a certified horse’s you-know-what but they DO take his money.

      To repeat – the only thing he – and all the other owners – care about is MONEY. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If they didn’t have money – LOTS of money – to spend, they wouldn’t be there.

      Everyone who buys tickets and goes to the games is complicit in this.

  9. mungman69 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    I agree; Enough about this old goat. These playoffs are great. No one can predict whom will win ANY game. Wizards are killing Bulls and Trail Blazers are beating Rickets and so on. Great games. Wait till next year when Philly storms through the playoffs.

  10. seanb20124 - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    The rich can do what they want, they have money.

  11. chiadam - Apr 27, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    Sterling is an old, fat, hate-filled bigot. He has nothing positive to offer anyone, and I hope he’s forced out of the NBA. Considering all these facts about him, what kind of woman is this girlfriend of his? She’s much hotter than anyone I would ever imagine dating an old piece of filth like Donald Sterling. Hammer away at Sterling, but save some for this gold digging guttersnipe that calls him “honey” and “sweetheart” as he’s spouting his hatred.

  12. david407 - Apr 27, 2014 at 9:08 PM

    Ok we get it, an old white billionaire man is racist… not sure why this is such big news. Stop posting articles about it! I come to this site to read about basketball games, not a comment an old man made to some broad in a private conversation.

    • asimonetti88 - Apr 27, 2014 at 9:20 PM

      How is this not basketball news? Last time I checked, Tokowitz owns the Clippers.

  13. 1historian - Apr 27, 2014 at 10:06 PM

    Political correctness – 1

    Free speech (although it turns your stomach) – 0

    The ONLY thing that will get this guy’s attention is an empty stadium for game 5.

    • theghostofwillisreed - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:24 AM

      freedom of speech lost?

      when did sterling get thrown in jail for what he said?

      the first amendment doesn’t mean what you think it means. may want to read up on it…

      • 1historian - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:20 AM

        My point is this – he is being vilified for what he said. He still has the freedom to say what he said, but he is taking a beating from people for it and it seems to me to be in the name of political correctness. Even the prez has spoken up.

        I remember that 7th game in the 1970 Finals when Reed ran on the court – do you? Only time I ever rooted for the Knicks.

  14. seahonky - Apr 27, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    Force him to sell to the Hansen/Ballmer group. Have team move to Seattle. LA can’t support 2 NBA teams

  15. chicagosports2014 - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    Ugly MF getting used for his money. 😈

  16. sailbum7 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:24 AM

    What Sterling said was despicable, but I am not sure what place the NBA, or anyone else for that matter, has sanctioning him for it. These were comments made in private during a private conversation that was illegally recorded. If he had made these comments publically the NBA might have some grounds to take action against him under their rules, but since this was in private they may be severely limited, even though the comments were made public through the illegal recording.

    What Sterling said is horrid,but we still have free speech in this country and Sterling is entitled to privately express his feeling to his girlfriend, not matter how objectionable those feelings are to most people. These were not public statements and he never intended them to be made public. I am sure that many people have expressed feelings privately to someone else that they would not want to be made public.

    I am not defending wha Sterling said in any way, it was despicable. However, as disgusting as they are, everyone is entitled to their opinions and to discuss them privately with their significant other. I am just not sure what grounds that the NBA or any one else has to take any action against Sterling.

  17. theghostofwillisreed - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    @1historian – that’s how it works. you have the right to be called out when you say something stupid whether it be in the name of political correctness or not. no one is saying for him to go to jail but when you say something as an owner that reflects badly on the sport, you’d best believe the question of ousting him to sanitize the brand is going to come up.

    people only bring up political correctness when it comes to views run afoul of their own. why is that?

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