LeBron James has let it to be known among players that he is willing to lead a boycott of NBA games next season if disgraced L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling hasn’t been forced to sell his team by then.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced days ago Sterling has been banned for life by the league and hit with a maximum $2.5 million fine after video of him admonishing a girlfriend “not to bring black people to my games” was made public.
But with Sterling and other family members hinting they may not be willing to quietly walk away, some are wondering just how soon the league might be able to completely absolve itself of the league’s longest tenured owner.
That’s where four-time league MVP James appears ready to take over, with NBA Players Association VP Roger Mason telling ESPN the Miami Heat star “is prepared to lead a boycott … if the issue is not resolved.”
In the hours after the tapes were made public, James and the Heat joined the Clippers in wearing their team-issued warm up suits inside out as a form of protest and a show of solidarity.
The 81-year-old Sterling has owned the Clips since 1981 and since that time he’s been involved in almost as many scandals as his teams have posted victories. Hall of Fame player and longtime team GM Elgin Baylor once sued him for age and race discrimination and Sterling has always had a history of being a tight-fisted negotiator when it came to signing players.
Among the candidates who have expressed at least a preliminary interest in acquiring the franchise should the league prove successful in its push for a sale are Magic Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Oscar DeLa Hoya.
Sterling purchased the Clippers in 1981 for just $12 million, while estimates are it will now sell for upwards of $1 billion.