Kevin Johnson, the Sacramento mayor and former NBA All-Star, spoke Tuesday on behalf of NBA players, current and former, in support of Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision of a lifetime ban on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments in an audio recording released last weekend, reports USA Today.
“Today the players believe the commissioner has done his duty,” Johnson said while surrounded by current and former players outside the doors of Los Angeles City Hall. “On this day, Adam Silver is not only the owners commissioner, he is the player’s commissioner.”
The legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was there, along with Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash, New York Knicks Tyson Chandler, former Lakers forward A.C. Green, former Lakers and Clippers player Norm Nixon, and former Miami Heat guard Roger Mason (who is now a free agent).
Before Johnson and company addressed the enormous throng of media members, they had all been inside City Hall watching Silver in action like everyone else. When he shared the final verdict at his New York news conference – a lifetime ban, maximum-allowable fine of $2.5 million and the demand that he sell the team – they broke into applause before coming out with so many satisfied smiles.
Johnson took the lead at the news conference, with Abdul-Jabbar, Nash, and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti also sharing their praise for Silver’s decision.
Silver, who took over for former Commissioner David Stern in February, had passed his first major test. And the players who demanded he had their back were ecstatic.
Johnson went on to urge fans not to boycott Tuesday’s game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors at the Staples Center. That, he said, would’ve only been necessary if league didn’t do right thing
National Basketball Players Association first vice president Roger Mason said, “We want an immediate vote (by owners).”
“This is a really proud day for all of us players, for our league,” Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash said after taking the podium from Johnson. “I want to thank everybody for their hard work. Hopefully we can see out Adam Silver’s decision and make this a thing of the past.”
Johnson and others who spoke, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, said a lesson is to be learned from the decision.
“These events remind us that hatred and bigotry are far from over in this country,” Johnson said. “I hope every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and sees that if he can fall, so can you.”
Jabbar sent out a statement, saying: “His actions were so on the mark it was unbelievable…I’m thrilled with the outcome…we’re looking forward to some very positive changes.”