Three weeks ago, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced his decision to ban Donald Sterling from the league. Now, the NBA is ready to move forward and force the Los Angeles Clippers owner to sell the team.
A hearing has been set for June 3, to determine Sterling’s future with the franchise. The rest of the league’s owners will vote on whether he should be forced to sell the Clippers, following the hearing. A 75 percent tally is needed to make Sterling relinquish control of the team.
Sterling, though, won’t go away quietly. According to ESPN.com, he’s requested for the hearing to be delayed for three months. The date isn’t expected to be moved, but Sterling will likely continue to fight his punishment. His attorney has already told the NBA that the 80-year-old won’t pay the $2.5 million fine he received, and he doesn’t appear ready to give up the team.
Since the tape of Sterling’s racist comments was released, he’s become the most hated man in the NBA. Fans and players have been calling for him to be ousted from the sport. If he somehow manages to maintain his position as the Clippers’ owner, it could have major ramifications.
A threat has already been issued by a member of the NBA Players Association. According to the association’s vice president, Roger Mason Jr., the league’s top star won’t play if Sterling remains in the NBA.
“If it’s not handled by… the start of next season, I don’t see how we’re playing basketball. I was just in the locker room with LeBron (James) … 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,'" Mason said on "Jim Rome on Showtime."
Mason’s comments might have been a little premature. James initially spoke out against Sterling when the tape was released but wouldn’t commit to saying the players would refuse to suit up, if Sterling remains with Los Angeles.
“There is a more in-depth, longer conversation that needs to be discussed,” James said last week. “I can’t just sit here and answer for all 15 guys (on the Heat), ‘Hey we’re going to sit out the season and you guys are going to be okay with it.’”
Both James' representative and Mason didn't respond to interview requests from International Business Times.
Despite the negative publicity he’s received, Sterling doesn’t believe his presence will cause a strike. He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that most of the backlash he’s gotten has come from the media, not the players or fans.
"Why would they do that?” Sterling said. “If they get their salaries, they're going to play."
Silver and the rest of the NBA is hoping that the league won’t have to find out what could happen, if Sterling is the Clippers’ owner for the 2014-2015 season. The commissioner is confident that he’ll get the required votes to kick Sterling out of the league for good.