Even amid uncertainty surrounding the Clippers’ playoff fortunes, who their owner will become or will end up on their roster next season, Clippers coach Doc Rivers argued “we can move forward” after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued a life-time ban on Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Silver announced the punishment four days after an audio tape emerged of Sterling making racially offensive remarks.
“Adam Silver today was fantastic,” Rivers said. “He made a decision that really was the right one that had to be made. I don’t think this is something that we rejoice in or anything like that.”
That’s why Rivers recalled his players offering a stoic reaction after learning about the ruling during a morning film session Tuesday for prepare for Game 5 of the Clippers’ first-round series against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. The series is tied, 2-2.
“Honestly there was nothing in the room at that time when I said it,” Rivers said. “There was complete silence. I said what I thought I needed to tell them and then we went right back to film.”
Yet, Rivers conceded the players had considered boycotting the game had Silver instituted a lighter punishment on Sterling, who was heard on audio tapes taking issue with his girlfriend both posting a picture with herself and Lakers legend Magic Johnson on Instagram and for bringing black friends to games. Sterling was also handed a $2.5 million fine. Silver said that the NBA requires a 3/4 majority from NBA owners representing the Board of Governors to vote for Sterling to sell the team.
All those variables partly explain why Rivers canceled Monday’s practice.
“When you get blown out like we got blown out you probably should have a practice,” Rivers said. “I just didn’t think it would make any sense to do it. I thought they needed to go home and be with their families and breathe a little bit. Knowing that Adam was going to have a press conference today, I just felt like we knew there was going to be some kind of resolution. I was almost happy his announcement was during our practice. During the announcement, none of the players were watching it, they were practicing and preparing for a game. Afterwards is when they found out. I think that all turned out good.”
The news also affected Rivers, who conceded uncertainty on if he would stay as the Clippers coach if Sterling was still the owner.
“I want to coach. I love coaching. I enjoyed these guys,” Rivers said. “Other than that, I don’t have an answer because I had given it zero thought as far as that goes. Obviously dam’s decision, if ther was going to be one, makes mine easier.”
Sterling is barred from attending Clippers games and practices. He also has no input on business and player personnel decisions. CLippers president Andy Roeser will oversee the team’s day-to-day operations, while Rivers will take charge of basketball personnel. But what if Sterling fights through a lengthy litigation battle and remains the owner in name only?
“I don’t think he will,” Rivers said. “I think Adam has made that clear, unless there’s something different than a lifetime ban,” Rivers said. “A lifetime ban is a lifetime ban so I think that’s already been decided and yes, I do think that’s the right decision. The next step is where do we go. If you think about it, I’m coaching a team and I actually don’t know who to call if I need something, so the quicker that this is done, the better for everyone. Having said that, it’s going to take time and we all have to be patient.”