SBD/May 1, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA, Players' Union Find Solidarity Over Sterling Scandal, But Will Accord Last?

Several players said acts of inclusion could help unify the NBA and NBPA
The NBA and NBPA formed "an unlikely alliance in wrestling day-to-day control" of the Clippers away from Owner Donald Sterling, according to Ben Bolch of the L.A. TIMES. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's "sweeping sanctions against Sterling ... represented a coordinated effort between sides that have long battled over issues large and relatively small." NBPA President and Clippers G Chris Paul said that Silver and the league office "had 'given us a lot of input' into the fate of Sterling and the union and the league remained in constant communication from the time Sterling's comments became public late Friday until his punishment was announced Tuesday morning." Several NBAers said that those acts of inclusion "could help unify the league and players' union." That notion is a "departure from the often contentious relationship the sides have long shared." Paul said, "I think we have an opportunity to be partners in everything we do moving forward." But Bolch notes not everyone "thinks the accord will necessarily generate long-term implications." Clippers G J.J. Redick said, "I do think if you are not racist and you're not an ignorant person, it's easy to get behind anti-racism. So for the two sides to get behind that to me is a no-brainer. I don't know what that is going to look like in three years when we're negotiating our next CBA if we decide to opt out or if they decide to opt out. Those negotiations are generally pretty contentious" (L.A. TIMES, 5/1). Heat G Dwyane Wade said, "An ugly time for the NBA became a good time for the NBA in the sense of togetherness" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/1). But in N.Y., William Rhoden asks, "Where does the NBA go now?" With the "public flogging over, some will declare the issue dead and the bad guy in the black hat vanquished." If that is the result, we will "all miss a golden opportunity for a deeper exploration of racism." The players "suddenly have an opportunity to energize their union." They also have an "opportunity to set a tone for respectful relationship with one another" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/1). In DC, E.J. Dionne notes the players "showed how possessing real power can bring about change within a few media cycles" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/1).

LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE: In DC, Rick Maese writes under the header, "Over Four Days, The Donald Sterling Story Led To Seismic Changes To Los Angeles Basketball And The NBA." The entire Clippers franchise was "trying to reconcile the team's mission with its owner's character." Many team employees "banded together, more loyal to the team and co-workers than the owner." One former Clippers employee said, "There wasn't a real connection between [Sterling] and the staff. I think the only times there was really a social gathering was at these annual 'white parties.' It was this big party at his place in Malibu where he'd invite Clippers staff, celebrities and friends, and everybody had to wear white" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/1). Former NBAer Pooh Richardson said of Sterling, "He's always been a distant kind of guy; he never really associated with the players that much. You're not asking to be the best friends with an owner, but when the owner doesn't talk to you ... you could feel the coldness in him" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 5/1). In L.A., Melissa Rohlin noted Clippers F Blake Griffin "didn't quite realize how big the fallout was going to be." Griffin said, "I don't think any of us really knew how big that was going to be, just because we didn't really know the magnitude. We hadn't heard anything" (LATIMES.com, 4/30).
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