Welcome to the Daily NBA Fix for Monday, April 28, the morning after the Los Angeles Clippers silently protested and got loudly blown out.
Unless you have been in a cave, under a rock or possibly sequestered as part of a jury, you know what Clippers owner Donald Sterling reportedly said in a phone conversation with a girlfriend in response to her posting a picture of herself with NBA legend Magic Johnson on a social media account.
There’s no need to rehash what was said here; personally, I find the comments far too backward, repugnant and wrong-headed to voluntarily give them more play.
The Clippers players—in the middle of a playoff series, trying to win the franchise’s first championship—are now stuck in the middle of a controversy not of their own making. There was discussion about a boycott of Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Sunday.
In the end, the Clippers played, staging a silent protest by warming up with their Clippers T-shirts turned inside-out to hide the Clipper name and logo and also by wearing black armbands.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is facing the first real crisis since he took office in February; one of his owners accused of making racist comments, an owner in a league that is overwhelmingly African-American in its on-the-court makeup.
Because we have to, any time something like this comes up, let’s get something straight. Any punishment the NBA decides to hand down against Sterling will not—repeat not—be some sort of violation of Sterling’s First Amendment rights. Lots of folks need that eighth-grade civics refresher course on this topic. The First Amendment guarantees the government can’t jail you because you express an opinion. It doesn’t say thing one about protecting you from consequences of that opinion or from a private entity—such as a professional basketball league in which you own a franchise—looking for a back door to boot you out of tout suite.
For his part, Johnson said on social media Saturday that he will never again attend a Clippers game so long as Sterling owns the team and he appeared on television Sunday to further respond to Sterling’s alleged racist diatribe.
But Johnson may be interested in doing more than just talking.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Los Angeles Lakers legend who is part of the Guggenheim Partners who purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 is reportedly “absolutely interested” in purchasing the Clippers from Sterling.
The Guggenheim Partners had been aggressively pursuing buying the Lakers, but were told clearly the franchise isn’t for sale.
But the Clippers might be, whether Sterling is willing to do so or not. Would there be a better outcome to this sordid mess than for one of the most respected athletes and businessmen in America to end up as the face of the Clippers?
Look, just about any face—up to and including Frankenstein, the Phantom of the Opera or even Medusa—would be a more attractive one that Sterling’s, and I would have said this before the latest controversy erupted.
Sterling could walk away with a billion dollars or so, the NBA would be rid of his repulsive ass and one of the most charismatic people of the last half-century would replace him in those courtside seats at Staples Center.
Magic said Sunday Sterling should lose the Clippers. I can’t think of a better person to lose them to than Magic Johnson.
The Daily NBA Fix will do what it did all season long, deliver highlights, game capsules, the top and bottom five players and, yes, we’ll still be handing out the Goose Egg, Clean and Sober and Ironman awards. We’ll also have informational tidbits and a look at the daily lines for those who want to drop a buck or two on a wager.
Check out the highlights below from the night that was, then get into the game capsules (home teams in CAPS).