As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver prepared to announce sanctions against Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday morning in the wake of controversial remarks allegedly made by Sterling, other team owners rendered verdicts on their embattled counterpart.
Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander was perhaps the most critical, calling for Sterling to be ousted from ownership even though his interpretation of the league constitution did not allow for Silver to expel him under these circumstances. Alexander proposed that Clippers players be allowed to become free agents after the season, crippling the team’s chances for success under Sterling.
Sports law experts said that possibility was not allowed under the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement.
Alexander said Sterling was unfit for ownership based on his alleged statements.
“This kind of behavior can’t be allowed in the NBA by owners, players or anybody,” Alexander told reporters Monday. “This guy has no place in the family of the NBA. Whatever it takes, we have to make sure this kind of event never happens again.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he believed the league’s constitution would limit punishment of Sterling to a suspension and a fine.
“In this country, people are allowed to be morons,” Cuban told reporters Monday night before his team’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. “They’re allowed to be stupid. They’re allowed to think idiotic thoughts.… Within an organization like the NBA, we try to do what’s in the best interest of the league and that’s why we have a commissioner and a constitution and I think Adam will be smart and deal with Donald with the full extent available.
“But, again, if you’re saying a blanket, ‘Let’s kick him out?’ I don’t want to go that far because it’s not about Donald, it’s not about his position, it’s about his mess, and what are we going to make a decision on.”
Cuban called it “scary” to consider expelling an NBA owner based on private thoughts.
“In no uncertain terms am I supporting what Donald Sterling said, or his position,” Cuban said. “He’s obviously racist, he’s obviously bigoted. And in this day and age when you’re in the public eye, you’ve got to be … careful—if that’s your position and that’s unfortunately where you’re at—you better be … careful what you say, even in the privacy of your own home.
“But regardless of your background, regardless of the history they have, if we’re taking something somebody said in their home and we’re trying to turn it into something that leads to you being forced to divest property in any way, shape or form, that’s not the United States of America. I don’t want to be part of that.”
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said in a statement that it was “shocking that anyone could hold the kind of offensive and feeble-minded views that are being attributed allegedly to the Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. The diverse staff members of the Cleveland Cavaliers are united in encouraging commissioner Silver and the NBA to respond with swift and appropriate action consistent with a strong zero-tolerance approach to this type of reprehensible behavior.”
Said Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen in a statement: “The kind of statements attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling, if true, are abhorrent and not acceptable for the owner of an NBA franchise or anyone in professional sports. We at the Trail Blazers reject any and all such sentiments, and believe the NBA leadership should take swift and impactful action in this case.”