Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, on behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, has called on NBA commissioner Adam Silver to indefinitely suspend Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments allegedly attributed to Sterling.
Johnson is currently acting in an advisory role for the NBPA as the union continues to search for a new executive director, and he laid out the request in a long Facebook message. Not only did Johnson call for Sterling's suspension, which would include a ban from games and a removal from basketball operations, but the Mayor also called for the maximum possible fine:
Current and former players are in strong agreement that Mr. Sterling and his views have no place in our league. To that end, the NBPA has asked Commissioner Silver to impose the most severe sanctions possible under the NBA bylaws. We may not have the power to force Mr. Sterling to sell his team, but make no mistake, we believe that Mr. Sterling should no longer have the privilege of being an owner of an NBA team. After all, how can we expect any player (the majority of whom are African-American) to want to work for him?
At a minimum, Mr. Sterling should be suspended indefinitely, banned from games, slapped with the maximum fine possible, and forced to extract himself from basketball operations. He should be required to name someone from his executive team or family to take over all duties related to the Clippers.
The NBA continues to investigate the alleged racist comments, which reportedly have been authenticated by the league's lawyers, according to TMZ. Silver is set to hold a press conference at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday to address the controversy, and he's feeling pressure from all angles to levy a severe punishment. Numerous players, owners and other people around the league have called for swift action, and even President Barack Obama has chimed in on the situation.
The Donald Sterling Fallout
With the pressure mounting, Silver is reportedly looking at the "nuclear option" on Sterling, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski. There's a provision in the NBA bylaws that could potentially allow Silver to summon a vote of league owners to strip Sterling of his ownership, with the league taking over the team until it could be sold.
The Clippers, who are losing sponsors due to the controversy, return home for Game 5 of their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. Clippers players held a silent protest during Game 4, and several other playoff teams copied their actions in a display of solidarity. There has been talk of an even "stronger statement" for Game 5, but it's unclear just what that statement will be.