Even as the Los Angeles Clippers are moving on to the second round of the NBA Playoffs, the squad continues to deal with the fallout from team owner Donald Sterling’s racially insensitive comments. Now, the NBA has begun the process of pushing Sterling out in earnest, saying that the league will appoint a CEO to handle the team’s operations in lieu of Sterling.
ESPN on Sunday reported on the newest developments in the Sterling debacle, which has unfortunately overshadowed what is looking like it might be one of the best playoffs in recent memory. The NBA says that it will put an executive in place to run the team, which has until now been overseen by Clippers team president Andy Roeser. Roeser took over the role that the new Clippers CEO will fill shortly after league commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling from the NBA for life and set down a $2.5 million fine.
“The best way to ensure the stability of the team during this difficult situation is to move quickly and install a CEO to oversee the Clippers organization,” league spokesman Mike Bass said. “The process of identifying that individual is underway.”
The NBA has not given a specific timetable for when the new figure will be identified, but given the speed with which the league addressed the Sterling issue once the news broke, it is likely that a new Clippers CEO will be identified with comparable speed.
The new Clippers CEO will step into a firestorm of sorts, tasked with handling the operations of a squad that has seen its first bit of possibly enduring success sullied by the revelation of its owner’s bigotry. The league is in the process of pushing Sterling out, but that could take weeks or months, and Sterling has seemingly indicated that he is willing to fight the league.
If Sterling doesn’t decide to leave quietly, that could make life even more difficult for the incoming Clippers CEO. There is some question over just how much power the league can exert to yank the team away from an owner. Sterling, who began as a lawyer and is notoriously litigious, could possibly sue the league if he’s feeling punchy. Previous reports that he had already filed a $1.7 billion suit are unfounded, though, and the embattled team owner has actually been laying low.
As the Sterling situation has progressed, the real estate tycoon has only said that he intends to keep the team. Asked about the mistress who may have leaked the tapes that got him into such hot water, Sterling said only that “I wish I had just paid her off.”
Back in the realm of actual basketball, the Clippers put the kibosh to the Golden State Warriors’ upset hopes on Saturday. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and crew tossed the Warriors in a thrilling Game 7. The new Clippers CEO, no doubt, is wishing the focus could really just be on that fact. The Clippers will go on to face the Oklahoma City Thunder this week in a second round series that we’re hoping will be exciting enough to get people’s minds off of the team’s owner.