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Roger Mason: LeBron will lead players boycott if Donald Sterling still owns Clippers next season

May 13, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT

When news of Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist remarks broke initially, the players were considering all of their options in terms of ways to protest had the league not acted as swiftly as it did in issuing a lifetime ban as punishment.

There were talks of players boycotting playoff games, but it would have been extremely short-sighted and thankfully, the speed and the force with which Adam Silver reacted was enough to satisfy even those who were most angered by Sterling’s comments.

The league is moving as expeditiously as possible in terminating Sterling’s ownership of the Clippers, but it will take some time, and there will likely be one or more lawsuits involved before everything has been settled. Roger Mason Jr., vice president of the players’ union, wants to keep the pressure on in this regard, and has LeBron James on his side as one player who will reconsider a boycott if Sterling is still in place in an ownership role next season.

From a Showtime press release (via James Herbert of CBSSports.com):

“If it’s not handled by… the start of next season, I don’t see how we’re playing basketball,” Mason said. “I was just in the locker room with LeBron… At the end of the day, you know we have leaders. We have player reps, we’ve got executive committee members… Leaders of the teams, they’re all saying the same thing, ‘If this man is still in place, we ain’t playing’.”

Rome followed up: “So your guy LeBron, you think he would not play if Sterling were still in there when the [next] season started?”

“I was just in the locker room three or four days ago. LeBron and I talked about it,” Mason said. “He ain’t playing if Sterling is still an owner.”

Mason appeared on Jim Rome on Showtime, and the entire interview premiers on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.

It’s important for the players to have a strong voice like James be heard on the subject, and the sentiment is undoubtedly 100 percent sincere. But honestly, there’s no way it will come to this.

The NBA is committed to terminating Sterling’s ownership in the Clippers, and that includes the portion held by his estranged wife Shelly.

“Under the NBA Constitution, if a controlling owner’s interest is terminated by a 3/4 vote, all other team owners’ interests are automatically terminated as well,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, responding to Shelly Sterling’s public comments via an official release. “It doesn’t matter whether the owners are related as is the case here.  These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team.”

It’s clear the league isn’t concerned about the potential legal battles that may be in store down the road. The directive is to resolve the Sterling situation completely by removing him as an owner, and to do so even if a lengthy fight in the court system awaits.

As long as that happens, there will be no reason for the players to boycott games. But it’s good for their feelings to continue to be expressed, and for the players union to keep the pressure on the NBA until the task of Sterling’s removal has been formally accomplished.

  1. lowtalker - May 14, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    fine. let him sit out a year. they can all sit for a year. would anyone really notice? you can watch college BB through March. Then it is baseball season.

  2. campcouch - May 14, 2014 at 1:16 AM

    Hilarious. When those game checks stop what happens then? Regardless of what Sterling said,he didn’t personally attack or deny life,liberty,dignity or a right to earn. His mad on was Magic Johnson but that’s another tale. He made a generalization. I didn’t feel any agony over it,but a bunch of millionaires who have been catered to their entire athletic careers feel slighted by a billionaire lol. They haven’t tasted true racism. I’ve been called a pretty inventive list of names,but all it did was agitate me. Didn’t affect my job,getting food or hanging out. You think the owners are going to be like “oh yeah,we support your boycott that’s killing my bottom line but I’ll keep paying you.” Nah,they’ll show outward support but the bank will be closed. I’d like to see how long the boycott lasts then. If they had real convictions,they would have boycotted immediately and forced a quicker resolution if they could. Makes them feel better,but no concern for the average Joe that still has to deal with Sterling daily. Heck,he can hire me. $300k a year and he can call me what he wants when I grab his lunch.

  3. yesser12 - May 14, 2014 at 1:51 AM

    Easy to say this now but a lot can happen in 5 months. I don’t think they can sell the team that fast. Sure some players will boycott but if players are struggling in the money department they will play. If teams need to fill roster with people off the streets they will play because the money.

  4. davecotuit - May 14, 2014 at 4:22 AM

    if the NBA owners wanted to, they could vote TOMORROW to strip Sterling of ownership. but, no, all the legal niceties are being observed. what a joke.

  5. bowltr - May 14, 2014 at 7:17 AM

    Give me a break with the boycott BS! To think these players are going to walk away from their millions just because an owner said something stupid is utterly ridiculous. The NBA has already placated the players by publicly censoring Sterling and now if they don’t take his team by the beginning of next year we won’t play? Stop playing now then. Show some balls and boycott now! This is all grandstanding. What are the players going to do when Sterling sues the NBA and and gets an injunction to prevent the NBA from selling the team on him? Are they going to boycott then? It’s not just the NBA that has to take action it’s the US court system.

    • storminator16 - May 14, 2014 at 8:30 AM

      “The NBA has already placated the players by publicly censoring Sterling and now if they don’t take his team by the beginning of next year we won’t play?”

      Exactly. Not sure what the players want the NBA to do as Silver & co. are doing everything they can do at this point. Boycotting will solve nothing. The dirty mess with getting rid of Sterling can take years of legal hell so…yeah, Lebron is getting/giving bad advice.

      • sportsfan18 - May 14, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        very few NBA players with really intelligent minds able to grasp complicated concepts…

        I mean most can’t even play a lick of defense… and this is the game they love and have played non-stop since they were very young boys…

        during an interview the other day, both James Harden and Carmelo Anthony said that playing good defense meant crossing back over half court when the other team had the ball…

  6. canadatude - May 14, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    If they boycott now, the cheques won’t flow all summer when they sit at home. A really sincere group would give that up if it was important to them. Not gonna happen.

  7. imthaschmidt - May 14, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Just give sterling his billion (which is more than any of the players boycotting will ever make) and let him go live on an island in peace.

    • sportsfan18 - May 14, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      he’ll get the billion for selling…

      the PROBLEM is that he’ll owe MORE than $300 hundred million in taxes that way… due to the capital gains taxes…

      if he could leave the team to his heirs and the team was worth say $1 billion and they owned it/held it for 10 yrs and then sold it for $1.2 billion dollars, they’d only have to pay capital gains taxes on the $200 million or only tens of millions in taxes vs. the hundreds of million in taxes the other way…

      i’m not defending Sterling… just see why he’ll fight as there are a couple of hundred millions of reasons for him to try and fight…

      with the consensus of opinion against him out there and the moneyed interests aligned against him too, I think he’s going to lose even though he’ll fight…

  8. thraiderskin - May 14, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    Grow up and man up… he is on his way out, boycotting over this hurts the fans.

  9. iowahbr - May 14, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    went shopping this am to stock up on all the things I would need to survive an NBA player boycott and it was the cheapest shopping experience of the year. got exactly nothing but I would suggest people avoid buying a Bentley or Ferrari until it does happen as prices are sure to fall.

  10. rrhoe - May 14, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Now I see why MJ never stood up for anything during his playing days,LeBron,you are just a basketball player,plz keep it at that.

  11. cueghost - May 14, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Shut the Front door already!!! I got news for you Lebron… Donald F’ing Sterling is not the ONLY racist with NBA affiliations…AND, Silver already banned him for life and they have begun the process to force his sale of the team, and now YOU are going to boycott next season because it isn’t happening fast enough for you??? I tell ya, I just can’t take much more of this! You would think he sold Doc River’s daughter into slavery or something… Just let it go already, he’s done, it’s over, DROP IT!

  12. ocgunslinger - May 14, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Sure King James. You have made your multi million dollar contracts and endorsements and now expect guys who are just coming into the league and those on their first contracts to give up what may be their only years in the league so that you can show what you are made of as a man. Certainly not a leader but more of an instigator. Actually I hope you do just what you say as this will not be resolved for years in court. If you want to talk the talk be prepared to walk the walk.

  13. katra2logic - May 14, 2014 at 2:41 PM

    All the yelling and screaming at LBJ seems rather senseless, the quote or sentiments are attributed to him by another person. You would think people should know better by now, nobody can speak for another person. Best to go ask LeBron directly about what he thinks.

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