Following the NBA’s ban on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the league has named former Citicorp and Time Warner head Richard Parsons as the team’s CEO.
He said his first job was to help the team settle down.
"Like most Americans, I have been deeply troubled by the pain the Clippers' team, fans and partners have endured," Parsons said in the release that announced his appointment. "A lifelong fan of the NBA, I am firmly committed to the values and principles it is defending, and I completely support Adam's leadership in navigating the challenges facing the team and the league."
"The Clippers are a resilient organization with a brilliant coach and equally talented and dedicated athletes and staff who have demonstrated great strength of character during a time of adversity. I am honored to be asked to work with them, build on their values and accomplishments, and help them open a new, inspiring era for their team."
Parsons, 66, became chief executive of multimedia corporation Time Warner in 2001 after serving on the board since 1991. Some of Time Warner's subsidiaries include Time Inc. publishing, HBO, CNN, Warner Bros., as well as TNT, which has broadcast NBA games since 1988.
Parsons became chairman of Citigroup in Feb. 2009 after his predecessor, Sir Win Bischoff, resigned after the financial-services firm accepted $45 billion in federal assistance during the financial crisis. He stepped down from the Citigroup board in 2012.
Parsons currently serves as a senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners, and sits on the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates.
The move to bring in Parsons appears to be a sign that the NBA is looking to move quickly to add stability to the Clippers, who play in the No. 2 media market.
"I believe the hiring of Dick Parsons will bring extraordinary leadership and immediate stability to the Clippers organization," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. "Dick's credentials as a proven chief executive speak for themselves and I am extremely grateful he accepted this responsibility."
The NBA is in the midst of an overhaul of the team. Silver banned Sterling for life after an audio recording revealed racist remarks by the 80-year-old. Sterling may be forced to sell the team if three-fourths of the league’s owners vote against him. In a new wrinkle in the case, as reported by Associated Press, Sterling's wife Shelley has made clear that she intends to retain her 50 percent ownership stake in the Clippers. Her attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, said his client "will not agree to a forced or involuntary seizure of her interest ... we will fight vigorously to defend her property rights."
On Tuesday, Clippers president Andy Roeser, who worked for Sterling for over 30 years, announced that he would he take indefinite leave of absence, "effective immediately.”
The Clippers are currently playing the Western Conference semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The seven-game series is tied, 1-1, with game 3 set to tip off in Los Angeles on Friday night.
Parsons grabbed headlines as the first African-American CEO of a major media corporation. He was also instrumental in Time Warner’s merger with America Online (AOL).
A native of Brooklyn, Parsons was one of five children to an electrical technician father and homemaker mother. He played basketball at the University of Hawaii, and earned his law degree from Albany Law School.
Parsons recently re-opened a jazz supper club, Minton’s, once a mainstay of Harlem's after-hours jazz scene.