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SBD/June 11, 2014/FranchisesPrint All
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver this morning said his biggest concern regarding the Clippers ownership situation is that the league is "going to get stuck in a quagmire of sorts in litigation" filed by Donald Sterling, which could "delay Steve Ballmer taking over" the team. Appearing on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike," Silver said, "The team is a little bit in limbo right now. ... They’re going into a draft, they’re going into free agency. Guys want to know where they stand, so we’d like everything to just be clear so everybody understands how this team is moving forward.” He noted the league will continue the transfer of the franchise to Ballmer as long as Rochelle Sterling "can pass clear title" to Ballmer. Silver: "He’ll go through the usual vetting, but I don’t anticipate any problems from our side so it’s really just waiting on them. It will happen, and I think Donald ultimately knows that. He can jam up the works a little bit right now, but it’s time for him to move on” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 6/11). TMZ reported there is an "escape clause" in Ballmer's agreement that gives him the "right to nix the deal" if Rochelle Sterling does not have "clear authority to sell the team" (TMZ.com, 6/10). In L.A., Rainey & Bresnahan reports Rochelle today planned to go to court in L.A. to "ask a judge to expedite a hearing validating her takeover of a family trust -- an action she used to clear the way for her sale" to Ballmer (L.A. TIMES, 6/11).
STERLING BLASTS NBA IN STATEMENT: Donald Sterling yesterday released a statement through his attorney, stating that stated that he is "fighting for the fundamental rights of Americans against the NBA." The statement calls the league a "band of hypocrites and bullies" and "despicable monsters." His statement is titled in caps and underlined: "WHY AM I FIGHTING THE NBA? THE NBA WANTS TO TAKE AWAY OUR PRIVACY RIGHTS AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH" (AP, 6/11). Silver during halftime of Spurs-Heat Game 3 last night responded to the statement by saying, "I have no idea what he's talking about. The focus, obviously, shouldn't be on me or the NBA. This is about Donald Sterling and his conduct and if he wants to litigate, he'll litigate" ("Spurs-Heat Game 3," ABC, 6/10).
IS LIFETIME BAN, FINE WORTH THE FUSS? USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt writes the drama surrounding the Clippers is “careening into the sideshow the NBA wanted to avoid and for the most part, thought it had avoided.” What is “most important to the NBA” is that the Sterlings “sell the Clippers, not the lifetime ban or the fine.” The latter two “ultimately are inconsequential to the NBA but important to [Donald] Sterling on a matter of principle.” Silver and the league's attorneys “won't do anything to jeopardize their case against Sterling.” But if Sterling ever “agrees to drop lawsuits and sign the required paperwork that would put the NBA in the clear, maybe the fine and ban will be forgotten” (USA TODAY, 6/11). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "The league has to ask itself, 'What is the goal here?' Is the goal to get Donald Sterling out of a position of ownership with dispatch, which they appear to have done to this point, or is the goal to ban him from every arena in the league so he can't even buy a ticket?" Kornheiser added, "This was done so well to this point, what you risk is taking a giant step backwards, tying yourself up in court for months, maybe years ... losing the momentum that you had." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said the lifetime ban was "important at the time, and events have overtaken it, the event being the sale of the team" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/10).
Colts Owner Jim Irsay in his first extended interview since a March arrest "remained circumspect about what happened that night and what he's been through since then," but he "addressed several topics ... which may or may not shed light on his current state of mind," according to Bob Kravitz of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. After attending rehab in "several spots around the country," Irsay acknowledges he is "still on some pain medication for his hip and back, but he's having it closely monitored by his doctors, who will eventually wean him off those meds if the pain abates." He also has "agreed to random drug testing with the prosecutor's office," with those results being shared with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Irsay "declined to discuss the details" of his arrest or conversations he has had with Goodell. However, Irsay said that the $29,000 in cash in his vehicle at the time of his arrest was "not unusual for him." Kravitz: "He showed me a briefcase on his desk. When he opened it, I saw stacks and stacks of $100 bills." Irsay: "You're talking about someone who is extremely generous, and I say that humbly." Asked what he would like to say to fans, Irsay said, "My focus is on making the Colts the best team in the NFL. I'm completely engaged and have always been engaged, even when I was in rehab. Your paper acted like my kids were running the team and I was in some kind of coma." He added, "There's no way you're going to have a billion-dollar investment and never fail to monitor it for a period of time." Asked if he felt he needed to apologize to anyone, Irsay replied, "There are certain things I want to say that I can't say. We need to let the process go forward and I'll address that later" (INDYSTAR.com, 6/10).
California's Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation ran an anti-Redskins commercial titled "Proud to Be" in seven major markets -- N.Y., L.A., Chicago, Dallas, S.F., DC and Sacramento -- during halftime of last night's NBA Finals Game 3, and the ad "comes close" to being a "game-changer" in the team nickname debate, according to ESPN's Tony Kornheiser. The NFL was "going to wait and see if there was an economic impact before they moved, not a social impact," and in terms of social impact, this feels like a momentum changer." Kornheiser: "The rightful conclusion to this is to change the nickname, and it's a question of when it's going to happen. Little by little, incrementally, a lot of things have helped. ... This, to me, is bigger than anything else so far just because of the visual impact and the persuasiveness of it." ESPN's Michael Wilbon predicted the ad was "going to have a powerful impact in terms of just what people feel when they see this." But he said that does not mean the NFL is "going to sort of all of a sudden have the same reaction and they're going to react in kind." Wilbon: "Public opinion and then public pressure is perhaps the way they're counting on going with this, which has been a local issue, not a national issue, for more than 30 years" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/10). Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation Chair Marshall McKay said the ad can be used "as a catalyst to bring awareness to sports fans of the feelings of native people about the mascots" ("CBS This Morning," CBS, 6/11).
BIG MONEY BEHIND MOVEMENT: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke called the ad "very compelling" and noted the fact the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation was "able to put the advertisement on a major sports event in major markets means there's finally big money behind this movement, which is huge." ESPN's J.A. Adande said, "When you hear the words that they do use and see the images that they use, you realize that is how you honor a people, not by using an offensive nickname that leads non-Native Americans to don headdresses and to paint their faces and, basically, mock the culture. The fact that enough people cared enough to spend enough money to air this ad, that's all you need to know." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said the ad was "very powerful and very educational if you see it in its entirety." Cowlishaw: "I don't know if it will have an effect on the NFL, but at least it's something going in the right direction" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/10). CBS Sports Network's Allie LaForce: “Now it is actual tribes buying commercial time to prove a point. How many more tribes are going to pick up to that and start buying more ads? How big is this going to get?” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/10).
In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes new Knicks coach Derek Fisher gave "a winning performance” at his introductory press conference yesterday, but it is “all about” team President Phil Jackson now. It will be “quite interesting to see how comfortable Fisher, a wise and proud figure,” will be “wearing the perception that Phil-osophy with the Knicks means he, Fisher, is some kind of kid involved in a mentoring program” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/11). Also in N.Y., Mike Vaccaro writes, "As much as Jackson tried to make this day about Fisher it was actually about Jackson because it will always be about Jackson until this plan actually gets sling-shotted into turnaround.” It was Jackson’s day “yesterday, and will be tomorrow, and each day next week, and every day until he changes the conversation by changing the culture.” Hiring Fisher is “a start,” but “only that” (N.Y. POST, 6/11).
JOHNNY UTAH: In Boise, Dave Southorn notes the Jazz and the NBA D-League Idaho Stampede yesterday “announced a ‘hybrid’ affiliation for next season.” The Stampede will “handle the business side of operations, while the Jazz will manage the basketball side, including coaches and the roster.” Stampede Managing Investor Bill Ilett said that the team's uniforms and logo “may undergo tweaks next season to match the Jazz, and likely will evolve further as the affiliation continues.” The Trail Blazers, who served as the Stampede’s affiliate last season “assigned, then called back up, only two players for a total of eight games.” But Ilett said of the Jazz, “I think they'll use it quite a bit more. Geographically, we can move players easily, and I think culturally it makes a lot of sense” (IDAHO STATESMAN, 6/11).
BIG BAD WOLF: In Minneapolis, Chip Scoggins wrote what the T’Wolves need “more than anything is stability,” as they “rarely experience the tranquility of calm waters.” The reason for that “starts at the top and flows downward.” If the T’Wolves “were a Doppler radar, they would be covered in bright ominous colors because the atmosphere around this organization is always unstable” (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/8).