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Mark Jackson: Clippers fans should boycott Game 5 due to Donald Sterling allegations

Apr 28, 2014, 7:12 PM EDT

Mark Jackson appeared on the Dan Patrick Show, and Patrick asked the Warriors coach whether he could coach the Clippers if Donald Sterling remained the team’s owner. Jackson:

I cannot be the head coach of the Clippers. Like I said, there’d have to be some dialogue. I believe that people can be changed and healed and saved and delivered. It’d have to be some dialogue, and it’d have to be a process with him wanting him wanting to change his thought process and his beliefs. But as it is right now, I could not coach for him.

Patrick also asked how the players should respond to the allegations:

People probably pressured and said the Clippers should boycott and all that. I didn’t agree with that at all. At the end of the day, you’ve got some young, successful guys that dreamed of playing at this level. You’ve got a coach that dreamed of coaching at this level. And they’re being paid very well to do it.

If I were a fan – I’m being paid. Now I’m paying to watch – I wouldn’t show up to the Staples Center. In an ideal world, I’d prefer the Clippers and the Warriors play in the Staples Center with no fans. That made a statement. That speaks volumes. It could be on TV, and we could treat it like it’s normal, but I think it would make a heck of a statement saying you won’t tolerate what was allegedly said.

To everyone telling the Clippers’ players, coaches and fans what to do – shut up.

It’s so easy to give those directions when you don’t have to take the downside of them.

But try being in those shoes. It’s not so easy. These are extraordinary circumstances. There’s no roadmap for how to respond here.

Jackson’s response on coaching the Clippers bothers me, because he doesn’t have to make that choice. Doc Rivers has a nice salary, front-office control and a championship-caliber team. He’s supposed to throw all that away because Sterling allegedly said something racist? That’s a judgment Rivers should make for himself, because he’s the only person in position to do so. It’s completely unfair for Jackson to apply peer pressure for a certain outcome.

But Jackson’s suggestion for fans is even worse, because it would benefit him directly by removing Golden State’s homecourt disadvantage in this series.

Do I think Jackson is being purposefully self-serving? No, though I won’t completely rule it out. But that his suggestion helps the Warriors must be taken into account.

It’s not a money thing. Those Game 5 tickets are already sold. Sterling is getting that cash.

Why didn’t Jackson advocate a fan boycott of Game 4 in Oakland? That would have sent a message, and like Game 5, not affect the gate revenue for any owner.

Jackson is pushing a principled stance of boycotting – one he’s strongly opposed to for his role in participating in the game – when he doesn’t have to eat his tickets. Playoff tickets don’t come cheap, and I’m sure many fans want to support the players and Rivers. Whether going to the game endorses Sterling is a judgment fans must make for themselves, because they’re the only ones in position to do it.

At least Jackson wasn’t scolding the Clippers’ players for not boycotting. You can find that plenty of other places, though.

Everyone – including Jackson, Chauncey Billups, Jalen Rose, George Hill and Jerryd Bayless – is entitled to their opinion. But they’re not in the shoes of the people they’re speaking for.

The Clippers’ players, coaches and fans are doing the best they can. I have no clue what they should do, and I suspect many of them don’t, either.

It’s so much easier to say what you’d do when you don’t actually have do it. I wish a few more people would acknowledge that before saying what they’d do – because they sure don’t have to follow through.

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