Right about now, Adam Silver has got to be wondering what he did to deserve this. The NBA is in the midst of the greatest 1st round of playoff games in its history, and what could possibly turn out to be the single greatest round of playoffs of all time. And then Donald Sterling has to go and drop a stink bomb on the whole thing.
One can make a strong argument that the NBA deserves it, for allowing Sterling to stink up the joint for upwards of three decades now. I don't need to repeat what has been written in numerous other places, but you've got to wonder what was going through David Stern's head when he nixed the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers a couple of years back, which paved the road for Paul's trade to the Clippers. Which turned the Clippers around, which paved the road for Doc Rivers to join the Clippers, which turned the Clippers into, for the first time in their history, a legitimate title contender. And it's not as if Sterling was turning over a new leaf while all this was going on.
And if this first round has proven anything, it's that everyone (well, not Charlotte, and probably not Chicago) has at least a dreamer's chance to grab the trophy this year.
So what happens now? Obviously, Sterling has to go. But does the NBA have the ability to force him out? That seems like a debatable and open question. But for all intents and purposes, the Clippers ceased to be a viable entity the moment that the Sterling tape hit the airwaves. The sponsors are bailing, the players are protesting (in their own way; I thought what they did yesterday with the inside-out warmup jerseys was simple and effective), the legends (both current and former) are calling for immediate action, and the President of the United States has weighed in. One way or another, the Donald Sterling era is about to come to an end.
It'll be interesting to see what the NBA lawyers can come up with (and just why is the NBA constitution confidential, anyway?) in the way of leverage, but whatever it is it's not likely, in and of itself, to force Sterling out. But come on - who is going to want to ever play for that team again under the current circumstances? It'll be a minor miracle if this current Clippers team - the same Clippers team that blew out the Warriors by FORTY points the night before the tape hit the media, if you were paying attention - can suck it up and stay competitive in this round. I know they want a title and that's the whole point of playing the game and what they've dedicated their lives to, but come on - this is a distraction unlike any other they've ever faced, or will ever face again. It's not every day that your employer says something that makes it very clear that he views you as an inferior part of the human race. I'd find that a little hard to overcome.
So will Magic prevail? The Lakers legend owning the Clippers? That would be entertaining, but I guess I have to ask out loud whether L.A. really needs two NBA teams. I bet right now there are a lot of folks who would be very interested in seeing the Seattle Clippers set up shop.
What a disaster. Here's hoping that Sterling just goes away. Soon.