As if the L.A. Clippers needed another reason for desperately seeking to rid themselves of Donald Sterling, the most respected member of the organization has vowed to walk if the disgraced NBA owner is allowed to remain one day beyond the dissolution of what will prove to be all his baseless legal machinations.
Interim and league appointed CEO Dick Parsons testified on Tuesday coach and team president Doc Rivers has repeatedly told him he wants out if Sterling remains in. That would mean the longest tenured owner in NBA history would somehow have to find a way to overcome the lifelong ban imposed on him by NBA Commissioner Adam Sterling last April after a videotape of him admonishing his girlfriend not to “bring black people to my games” was made public.
Taking the stand during the ongoing probate proceedings initiated by Sterling and aimed at nullifying the subsequent $2 billion record-sale of the team engineered by his estranged wife, Shelly, to former Microsoft guru Steve Ballmer, Parsons added “if Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster. Doc is the father figure of the team.”
But none of that seems to matter to Sterling, who late Tuesday filed a separate and new suit against his wife and the league seeking damages for what he deems as fraud and violation of his corporate law rights.
On the day of his testimony, Parsons added “Chris Paul is the on-court captain … but Doc is really the guy who leads the effort. He’s the coach, the grown-up, he’s a man of character and ability — not just in a basketball sense, but in the ability to connect with people and gain their trust. The team believes in him and admires and loves him. If he were to bail, with all the other circumstances, it would accelerate the death spiral.”
In short, Doc Rivers is the lifeline for the organization Donald Sterling’s survival would obliterate; the utter antithesis of the crude and rude owner when the organization and Clippers Nation needs it all more than ever. Parsons was called as a witness to highlight just how much damage Sterling’s return to the franchise could mean. But truthfully, who among us can really capture that in mere words?
Already as many as seven of the team’s sponsors have moved to disassociate themselves from the Clips in the wake of the Sterling revelations and during his testimony Parsons cited Mandalay Bay and Kia Motors as examples of sponsors who are “sitting at the edge of the pool and don’t want to go in the water unless there is resolution. The issue or the cloud hanging over the team is the continued ownership of Mr. Sterling. If none of your sponsors want to sponsor you, your coach doesn’t want to coach you, and players don’t want to play for you, what do you have?”
Rhetorical questions aside, I would answer they would simply be left with Donald Sterling.