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Adam Silver: ‘Kevin Durant embodies what this league is all about, and frankly, Mr. Sterling doesn’t’

May 20, 2014, 7:36 PM EDT

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NEW YORK – Adam Silver met the media before Tuesday night’s Draft Lottery, but the vast majority of the questions he received were only tangentially related to basketball.

Instead, the mess involving disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and where the league stands in its process to terminate his ownership stake is what dominated the conversation.

The NBA formally initiated its charge against Sterling on Monday, asserting that he has engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams. Sterling has until May 27 to respond, and then a hearing will be convened on June 3. But given his refusal to pay the $2.5 million fine levied by the league along with a decision to retain legal counsel, a potentially lengthy battle in the courts awaits.

Silver, however, is confident that he made the right decision in acting so swiftly and forcefully, and believes that he’ll be able to execute his plan both successfully and in a timely fashion.

“My confidence level is high,” Silver said. “We know we’re doing the right thing, and I know I have the owners behind me. …  We have a very active advisory finance committee, which is 10 NBA owners who have been meeting on a regular basis to discuss these proceedings, and the timing is laid out in the NBA constitution. We’re following it to the letter in terms of numbers of days that Mr. Sterling has to respond and then when the hearing will be held, and as I said, I know we’re doing the right thing here.  This is an unprecedented proceeding.

“Will there be bumps in the road? Presumably yes. Mr. Sterling on one hand at least in his CNN interview indicated a willingness to accept the judgment of his owner partners.  His lawyers are saying otherwise, so we’ll see. But this will all get worked out. I know we’re pursuing the right course here and doing the right thing.”

Silver was asked about Sterling’s wife Shelly’s interest in the team, even though the NBA had addressed that previously with an official release. Silver reiterated the league’s position, which essentially is that once one owner is ousted, so are any and all of his partners.

“As I understand the position of Mrs. Sterling’s lawyers, in essence they would say we accept you can terminate Mr. Sterling, but somehow Mrs. Sterling comes with the team,” Silver said. “I think even if that’s not what it said in our constitution, it just doesn’t make sense. The same way even if you had unrelated partners, if you terminated the franchise of the primary owner and that owner had several colleagues, cronies, who were also owners with him, it wouldn’t make sense that under our constitution we could then go about selling the team, but those other partners would have to come along.

“So our position is once under the constitution, based on Mr. Sterling’s conduct, if the owners ultimately decide that it’s appropriate to terminate his franchise, the interest of all owners is terminated.”

The fact that all of this is hanging over the league isn’t lost on Silver, especially on a night where the future fortunes of 14 franchises will begin to be shaped by the Lottery results, and in the midst of what has been an incredibly competitive postseason.

“There’s a certain sadness, and you feel it, it’s almost a malaise around the league,” Silver said. “That’s what I sensed when I first met with the Clippers. It was something deeper than anger.”

Silver clearly isn’t pleased by the fact that Sterling’s actions have overshadowed recent events. And he pointed to one of the NBA’s more positive moments in Kevin Durant’s MVP acceptance speech as the type of story that exemplifies what the league is truly all about.

“I remember at one point Kevin Durant says, really in addressing his mother who was sitting in the audience at the end of the speech, I’m paraphrasing, I think, but he said something like, Mom, we weren’t supposed to be here,” Silver said. “The deck was stacked against us. I get choked up a little bit just remembering watching him give that speech, and I think Kevin Durant as our most valuable player embodies what this league is all about, and frankly, Mr. Sterling doesn’t.”

  1. antistratfordian - May 20, 2014 at 7:39 PM

    Mr. Sterling hasn’t for quite some time. What took them so long? Oh nvm.

    • limonadamas - May 20, 2014 at 7:58 PM

      True… but better late than never.

  2. txprelude - May 20, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    Well put Adam Silver. And doubly-so Kevin Durant. KD has somehow transcended the typical definition of an MVP; transforming it from Most Valuable Player to the NBA’s Most Valuable Person.

    • sportsfan18 - May 21, 2014 at 7:48 AM

      Well, very FEW MVP’s have given $1 million dollars to their communities like he did after the tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma last year and he went out to visit people as they were picking the pieces of their lives.

      He raised spirits by going out there and walking among and talking to those folks, taking pictures with them, brought lots of water and then doled out $1 million to help the disaster relief fund for those affected by the tornadoes…

      I realize that $1 million isn’t a lot in the grand scheme of things for KD but I haven’t heard about all the other top players in the NBA, the NFL and MLB giving away $1 million for something like this…

      Is KD going to reform the world? No, of course not. But he’s a good kid. He reaches out BEYOND the court and it is appreciated.

  3. thekingdave - May 20, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    God, the NBA needs to stop with this overcompensation already. THE NBA HAS BEEN FULLY AWARE OF STERLING’S CHARACTER FOR TWO DECADES. Even though Silver wasn’t the commissioner, he was the #2 guy behind Stern for the majority of the time. Ditto for Doc Rivers (who freaking played for the Clippers in the early 90s) and current Clippers players. GTFO.

  4. surly1n1nd1anapol1s - May 20, 2014 at 8:02 PM

    Spot on comment king Dave. Silver is complicit in past look-the-other-way policies regarding Sterling.

  5. gmsalpha - May 20, 2014 at 10:12 PM

    I kept reading “Mr. Sterling” as “Mr. Stern”, thinking he was bashing David Stern. It totally threw me off until I realized it was the Clippers owner. Totally makes for a different story in this light.

  6. rodyaugu - May 20, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    What does Durant have to do with Donald Sterling?

    • borderline1988 - May 20, 2014 at 11:55 PM

      Adam Silver’s starting to annoy me a bit. He’s too much of a panderer. Say what you want about David Stern, but he was certainly no suck-up to the fans and media. I guess you take the goodwith the bad

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