All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
April 29, 2014
Guests: Bill Maher, Josh Block, Dave Zirin, Etan Thomas
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: Effective immediately, I am banning Mr.
Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or
the NBA. Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may
not be present at any Clippers facility, and he may not participate in any
business or player personnel decisions involving the team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, relatively new to the job, made that
remarkable announcement today that he was banning L.A. Clippers owner
Donald Sterling for life after the league had confirmed it was, in fact,
him on tapes that had been made public in which Sterling makes a slew of
racist comments to his then-girlfriend.
We have word tonight the Clippers will holding a pre-game news conference
in this hour during which they will address today`s news for the first time
as a team. We`ll bring it to you live when that happens. And coming up in
a moment, we`re going to talk to Bill Maher about the news.
Earlier today, Commissioner Silver made it abundantly clear that Sterling`s
comments have to no place in the NBA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SILVER: The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and
harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my
As for Mr. Sterling`s ownership interest in the Clippers, I will urge the
board of governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team
and will do everything in my power to ensure that happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In an era where people with power and wealth seem to face no
accountability for their misdeeds, Silver`s actions were immediately
applauded by the players, particularly the de facto leader of NBA players
in this matter, Sacramento mayor and former NBA all-star, Kevin Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN JOHNSON, MAYOR OF SACREMENTO: But these events remind all of us that
hatred and bigotry are far from over. I hope that every bigot in this
country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and recognizes that if he can
fall, so can you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Lest there be any doubt of that, this is now over, Roger Mason, who
is the vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, let
it be known how far NBA players were willing to go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER MASON, VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION:
Additionally, I reached out to other players around the league and made it
clear that the players were ready to boycott the games if this type of
action was not something that Adam Silver felt was necessary.
We want a time table from the owners as far as when this vote`s gonna
happen. But we feel confident that with Adam Silver`s urging, and
obviously we`ve heard from a lot of the owners around the league, we think
this is something that can be handled quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Forcing Donald Sterling to sell his team under the constitution of
the NBA will require the approval of three quarters of the 30 owners.
Commissioner Silver said today he was confident he`d get those votes. And
if the initial reaction from owners today is representative, Silver will
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who notably said yesterday that forcing
Sterling out of the league could be a slippery slope, today tweeted, "I
agree 100 percent with Commissioner Silver`s findings and the actions
From the Chicago Bulls` owner, "We will support Sterling`s (sic)
recommendation to press for Mr. Sterling to relinquish his ownership."
From the Golden State Warriors` owner, "We anticipate the NBA board of
governors will act promptly to put this chapter behind us."
From Charlotte Bobcats` chairman Michael Jordan, "There can be zero
tolerance for racism and hatred in the NBA."
There were similar statements of support from the Philadelphia 76ers
managing owner, the Boston Celtics managing partners and the New York
Knicks owner, as well as the Indiana Pacers and the Denver Nuggets.
And from basketball great Magic Johnson, who is reportedly interested in
buying the Clippers, a string of approving tweets including, "Commissioner
Silver showed great leadership in banning L.A. Clippers owner Donald
Sterling for life."
Meanwhile go to the Clippers website, and you see this. "We are one." Go
to the Miami Heat`s website, you will see this, "We are one." It was unity
statement repeated on numerous team websites today. The Phoenix Suns, the
Denver Nuggets, the Milwaukee Bucks.
Reaction from the world of politics appeared to be bipartisan approval with
Congressman John Lewis telling NBC News it was the right thing to do and
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, during a routine daily press
conference, being informed of the commissioner`s decision in real time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They banned him for life, the harshest possible
penalty, ban him for life from the games, a $2.5 million fine, and Silver`s
urging him to sell the team.
MITCH MCCONELL, SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Sounds pretty good to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: All this in anticipation of that pre-game news conference, the L.A.
Clippers tonight in just a little bit. Followed later by what could be the
most watched first-round NBA playoff game in history. You are looking at a
live shot of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, where that game
will be played. There will be players. There will be fans, but there will
be no Donald Sterling who as been banned from attending the games of the
team that, for the time being, he still owns.
One has to imagine that Commissioner Silver recognized that insufficiently
forceful response might have precipitated the kind of dramatic action by
players at tonight`s game the league would have had a hard time ever
And from the L.A. Clippers today, this statement: "We wholeheartedly
support and embrace the decision by the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver
today. Now the healing process begins."
Joining me now is Bill Maher, host of "Real Time" on HBO.
All right, Bill, I`m really curious to hear your reaction to the
announcement by the commissioner of the league today that Donald Sterling
is banned for life after they verified the voice on the tape saying those
things was, in fact, him.
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME": Well, it`s very hard to talk about this guy
on MSNBC. Because I can`t say (expletive deleted), can I?
Is that a word -- OK. OK, so I will call him an ass. You know, I think
it`s a great thing that all of America agrees and can gather around that
fact. Because I have lived through a number of racial comment
controversies, and it wasn`t with always that way. So, you know, I mean,
it`s their league. They can do what they want.
People still have are the right to be an ass, you know? And it is creepy
that you get recorded in your own home. But, you know, he`s a strange kind
of racist. I`ll say that. And I think it`s really all about the girl,
like, showing up with black men. It`s still that black men are taking our
women thing. That`s what`s at the bottom of this.
HAYES: There is a deeply, deeply creepy subtext, I agree, on the tape.
That is -- there are so many layers of awfulness that are captured in that
interaction it`s hard to tease them apart. But I`m not sure I agree with
you that -- that -- well, there is unanimity, I think, in condemnation of
him, yes. Although you are starting to see a few people here and there
take his side and sort of focus on the fact that he was taped, and maybe
set up, et cetera. I`m curious whether you think you`re see more of that
as people kind of rush to fill the vacuum of defending Sterling.
MAHER: I don`t know who these people are. I mean ,maybe you read right-
wing blogs I don`t. I mean, of course Rush Limbaugh will always take
whatever racial thing happens in America and within a nano-second find a
way to say something worse. That`s a given.
But, you know, the creepy part is that, yeah, when you get taped in your
own house and then that goes to the world, again, no one here is defending
on Sterling, but that`s creepy to me, is that we can`t even speak in our
house anymore. I don`t even know how that tape gets out there. I don`t
why that`s legal. But I`m much more concerned about things like that than
I am the NSA, which I am concerned about, too.
HAYES: Yeah, the part of the taping, the fact that it was taped privately,
we think, without his knowledge, it strikes me that if you -- if you had
this situation with someone who didn`t have the record that Donald Sterling
had, the record of lawsuits alleging racial discrimination, not just
personally toward people in the organization, but housing discrimination,
the fact that people kind of knew this guy had scummy views, that -- that
you wouldn`t get the same level of punishment that you`re seeing now, which
to me seems like a lot of it is the totality of the Donald Sterling
experience lo these many decades.
MAHER: Right. Well, you bring up a good point. People knew about this
guy. I mean, I`m sure his players must have known. At least some of them
must have known that he had been sued. You know, he had many instances
before this that showed his true colors. And they still kept taking the
checks. The NAACP was gonna give him an award up until yesterday. So, you
know, that`s a little disturbing in its own right.
HAYES: I think that you have talked a lot about the way we have these
moments of collective outrage around things people say. And you have
pushed back on that. You had a monologue sort of about liberals and their
obsession with political correctness. I want to just play a little bit of
it for you. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAHER: As a comedian, I don`t like it when political correctness nazis
hound me to sensor every joke and apologize for every slight and when I
have to learn to pronounce words like chai and quinoa.
So I get it. Liberals can be obnoxious. And that`s why lots of Americans
say, we don`t want politicians nagging but what we can name the football
team, or how big our soda can be, or what we can eat, or who we have
offended, we have wives for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Do you -- do you think this is one of those situations, or is this
one of those situations that`s so sort of far over the line that it doesn`t
strike you as some kind of liberal p.c. lynch mob?
MAHER: Well, let me just first say that you took a three and a half minute
editorial I did, mostly of which was not about the subject you showed. And
when you show it out of context, it doesn`t really make any sense.
The point we were making, it started asking how do Republicans win
elections? How do they do it when they don`t represent the people.
There`s more of us than there are of them. They are so much crazier than
they used to be. Then I went into how do they do it?
One, cheating. And I went to all the ways they cheat. obviously, the
voter fraud stuff, the gerrymandering, et cetera. And then I went into
this other area, which is cultural resentment. The Republicans are
brilliant at getting heartlanders, mostly, probably, to resent these kind
of unimportant things that come up with liberals, but that get them to vote
against their own interest.
And the real point of the piece was that these kind of people are voting
against their own interest. They are cutting off their nose to spite their
face. And if you look at one of the biggest Republican voting blocks, it`s
poorly educated white people, people who need a minimum-wage hike. And
they need health care. And they need environmental regulations. And they
vote against it because, you know, Obamacare has Obama`s name right in it.
And that`s what`s really disturbing them. And so, it was a much bigger
point we were making. But I don`t shy away from the fact that liberals
sometimes are obnoxious.
HAYES: Yeah, I think -- I think that there is something to this kind of
mode of scolding or -- or the fact that we have now, particularly with
social media, that these kind of outrage brush fires happen more routinely,
it seems to me.
And there are times when even I, who`s someone who kind of -- I don`t know
-- makes my living chronicling these outrage brush fires, wonders if we do
end up -- you know, it is striking to me that Donald Sterling`s lawsuit
payout on housing discrimination is going to get about 1/1000 of the
coverage that we`re gonna give to this taped conversation.
MAHER: Absolutely. It`s something else that sucks up all the oxygen. I
mean, this is a really different issue. But it is an important, too. ESPN
seems to have found their Malaysian plane. And every minute we`re talking
about Don Sterling, we are not talking about things that are much more
I mean, if we were really covering what`s important, the headline, -- there
would be a banner headline in the newspaper every day and on every blog
that basically says, "The Planet is Dying. The Ice Caps are Melting. We
Must do Something Very, Very Soon or We Are All Going to Die."
Maybe not in this generation, but, you know, if you have little kids -- and
I know you do -- I would be terrified at what the world`s gonna look like
in 50 years. That`s really what should be important, not Don Sterling.
But, you know, we are human beings, and this is America. And that`s just
not going to happen.
HAYES: But why is it -- why is that what people say -- what is it about
someone saying something like what Donald Sterling said or what Cliven
Bundy said that just grips our imagination? I mean, you are a comedian and
you do an incredible job of kind of making hay out of that. I`m here every
night, and I know the fact that if I walk in on a Tuesday and it`s like we
have this crazy Cliven Bundy tape, there is something about that that
captures people`s imagination or clarifies things in a way that, oh, this
federal lawsuit settlement happened today and I`m gonna sit here and read
it to you doesn`t.
MAHER: Well, part of it is, especially with the racial stuff, it`s -- it`s
an opportunity for self-congratulation.
HAYES: That`s right.
MAHER: You know, it`s an opportunity for people to, "I`m one of the good
people because I say this guy has to go." Well, yes. We all agree this
guy is a bad guy. But there are not that many opportunities anymore for a
lot of people to contribute to society. So they feel like one way they can
contribute to society is by making bad people go away. "You are a bad
person, Don Imus." Well, Don Imus Don was never really a bad person. He
said one rotten joke that had a racial overtone. I`m sure he wishes he
could take it back.
You know, Paula Deen, actually worse because she really was a racist who
was doing bad things. And that`s where it`s important, when it crosses
over from just an opinion. And again, you do have the right to be an ass
in this country. I don`t think we can take that away from you -- to actual
things that people do that are actionable. What Paula Deen was doing --
running a restaurant and discriminating against people, that`s actually
concrete. It`s actionable, and it`s in a whole different category in my
HAYES: I think the point about self-congratulation, particularly as they
pertain to these moments of racial controversy, is on the money. Because
the easiest thing in the world to do is to get up and say, Cliven Bundy is
wrong about slavery. Donald Sterling has horrible, contemptible views of
And it`s kind of -- you`re right that it allows you to kind of put some
badge on your chest or wear some kind of pin on your lapel that puts you
in some category that isn`t them.
HAYES: And it makes it seem like the real racist is this tiny group of old
cranks who no one ever actually deals with in real life.
MAHER: No, I tweeted this yesterday. I said Donald Sterling is 81. You
know what`s going to take care of this kind of racism? The flu. You know,
because it kills old people, the flu.
HAYES: Bill Maher, explaining his jokes. He doesn`t (ph) often do that on
HBO, "Real Time". You catch his fantastic stand-up show on May 3 at Penn
State and at Foxwoods in Connecticut.
Bill it is always a pleasure. I hope to see you soon.
MAHER: Thanks, Chris. I appreciate it.
HAYES: We`ll go live to the Clippers game, which I would just like to note
is set to begin after this show ends ahead.
HAYES: Secretary of State John Kerry is in trouble tonight for saying
behind closed doors a lot of other prominent people have said in public.
SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), TX: It is my belief that Secretary Kerry has proven
himself unsuitable for the position he holds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is beyond something requiring an apology. I think
this is a resigning-type statement.
HAYES (voice-over): Conservatives are calling for Secretary of State John
Kerry to resign. Even some Democrats are turning against him. So what did
the secretary of state do that was so terrible?
VOICE OF JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: A unitary state winds up either
being an apartheid state with second-class citizens or it winds up being a
state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be (inaudible).
HAYES: At a closed-door meeting, he warned that if a Middle East peace
agreement isn`t reached between the Israelis and Palestinians, Israel could
become, quote, "an apartheid state." The audio was obtained by the "Daily
Beast" Josh Rogin and, predictably, Fox News, among others, has taken Kerry
to task for using the word "apartheid."
STEVE DOOCY, HOST, FOX: He used "apartheid state", that expression to
describe Israel, and now the world is horrified.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The word, "apartheid" is very charged, right? It`s
like the word holocaust.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he be saying apartheid? Absolutely not. It
was a stupid thing to say.
HAYES: Last night Kerry walked back his statement, though not apologizing,
saying, "I will not allow my commitment to Israel to be questioned by
anyone, particularly for partisan, political purposes. If I could rewind
the tape, I would choose a different word to describe my firm belief that
the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and
two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two-
The word apartheid, as it relates to the future of Israel, is an explosive
because of what it is meant to evoke. The South African apartheid state
where a white minority ruled over a black majority who had no political
rights. We saw what happened when former President Jimmy Carter wrote the
book, "Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid", which compared the countries.
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: I make it very plain in this book that the
apartheid is not based on racism as it was in South Africa. But it is
based on the desire of a minority of Israelis to acquire land that belongs
to the Palestinians.
HAYES: Then, as now, the use of the word elicited strong condemnation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really have been concerned by a lot of what former
President Carter had to say. And I don`t think a lot of it`s been helpful
in any way.
HAYES: Abraham Foxman, of the Anti-Defamation League said the title is to
delegitimize Israel, calling Carter bigoted and outrageous. Harvard
scholar Alan Dershowitz said the analogy was especially outrageous. Marty
Peretz, former publisher of the "New Republic" called Carter a Jew hater.
Nancy Pelosi said Democrats reject the allegation vigorously that the
Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that
institutionalizes ethnically based oppression.
In a 2008 interview, then-Senator Obama said Jimmy Carter`s suggestion that
Israel resembles an apartheid state is emotionally loaded, historically
inaccurate, and not what I believe.
But if warning that Israel is headed towards being an apartheid state
disqualifies John Kerry from being secretary of state, what do you the say
to Israeli leaders who have made the comparison?
In 2007, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel could face a
South African style-struggle for equal voting rights. In 2010, former
Prime Minister Ehud Barak and then Israeli defense minister said if there
is no two-state solution, Israel is an apartheid state.
And last year, Israel`s lead peace negotiator Tzipi Livni said Israel must
ask what kind of state they want to leave the gas reserves, to a Jewish
Democratic Israel or to a bi-national Arab state, or to an apartheid state.
John Kerry and Israeli leaders used the comparison to South Africa to
describe a very specific potential future in Israel, one in which
demographic trends render the Jewish population a minority on the totality
of land they govern with a Palestinian majority that has no self-
If the word apartheid is the wrong one to describe that state of affairs,
what exactly is the right one?
(END VIDEO TAPE)
HAYES (on-camera): Joining me now, Josh Block CEO and president of the
Israel Project, an advocacy group.
So Josh given that there is precedent of Ehud Barak warning about this, and
Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, why is this out of bounds for John Kerry to
warn of this eventuality if a two-state solution isn`t reached?
JOSH BLOCK, ISRAEL PROJECT: Well, it`s a question -- it`s a question of
language and a question of what`s right to advance the cause of peace and
what`s accurate in its description.
So you know, politicians in Israel, first of all, they are living in
Israel. They`re making an argument inside their own domestic political
context. And they have often made mistakes. I mean, I think you cited
that remark from each of the people once. It`s the kind of thing you say
once and realize you probably shouldn`t say. Seems to be the experience
that Secretary Kerry has had.
You know, Israel is a vibrant democracy. You have a free press, a free
society, women`s rights, gay rights, minority rights. Arabic is an
official language in Israel.
HAYES: Is it a democracy in the West Bank?
BLOCK: Yeah, I mean, you`ve got Palestinians who vote for the Palestinian
authority. Unfortunately Abbas, of course as you know, Chris, is serving
the tenth year of a four-year term. So of course, they just did a deal in
which they say they`re gonna have elections again. I think people hope
HAYES: But they don`t -- they don`t have a state in the West Bank. I
mean, they can`t control their borders. If they want go to work in Tel
Aviv they have to go through a two-hour checkpoint. They have none of the
trappings of self-determination that you and I -- or you or I would accept.
BLOCK: I`m not sure that`s true, Chris. And I actually think that the
notion that folks have to stand at checkpoints for two hours is not always
true. You know, the language of apartheid has been foisted on the dialogue
by folks who have been intending to undermine Israel. Started the with the
Durban conference on racism at the U.N. many years ago, which Israel was
described as a racist state. (inaudible)
BLOCK: This has a legacy. It has a history. There is a purpose why
detractors use the language. It`s not accurate. You know, I was about to
say before there are a dozen members of the Kenesip (ph) who are Arabs,
Arabs who live in the West Bank who want to appeal to the Israeli supreme
HAYES: Josh, here`s the thing. The reason people make this warning is
because they sense a lack of urgency to create a two-state solution. I sat
in the winery at a table (inaudible) council and I said to him, "This
current trajectory, this is unsustainable, right? I mean, you have to do
something." And he looked me in the face -- this is the leader of the
settler movement said, "No. Why is it unsustainable? Why does anything
have to change? This can go on. There is no one bombing our pizzerias.
We have jobs. We are creating software firms. This is fine in
And the warning comes because there is a constituency inside Israel and the
U.S. that people like John Kerry and Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak fear have
no sense of urgency about getting to a two-state solution.
BLOCK: Well, look, Chris, I share with you the desire to see Israelis and
Palestinians living at peace and having a -- a reconciliation and a
wonderful opportunity to have children grow up in a life just like yours
and mine. I think the vast majority of Israelis do. You see poll after
poll showing 70 to 80 percent who would like to see that happen.
Unfortunately, you know, Secretary Kerry`s effort over the last nine months
to get to a peace agreement, the Palestinians didn`t want to do. They
didn`t even want to continue with the framework for those negotiations.
And when you got to the end of the period, they didn`t want to keep talking
to each a future.
So =- and to the contrary, Abbas went out and did a deal with Hamas, which
is a terrorist organization. I think the Israelis want to have peace and
you could find lots of folks who have lots of different views about
coexistence and what`s possible.
HAYES: Well, a lot of them in the Netanyahu government. I mean, the
Netanyahu government was very -- was actually upset. Many members of the
government were upset when the U.S. was pressuring toward peace talks,
BLOCK: I`m not sure, you know, Chris. I think, look, in Israel -- the
prime minister of Israel at the moment is duly elected by his people.
There is no quicker way to be popular in Israel, to pull the peace rabbit
out of the hat. I think if they believed he was possible, he would do the
it. Netanyahu turned over more territory to the Palestinian authority than
any other Israeli prime minister when he`s been prime minister.
HAYES: And the settlements continue to grow. Here is the question. Let`s
say there is no solution. Let`s say peace talks break down and however the
blame is apportioned in those peace talks breaking down. When you look at
Israel`s future 30 years from now, what -- what would you describe the
continued maintenance of that territory, particularly in the West Bank in
which you have Israeli settlements, you have Israelis living under Israeli
civil law, you have Palestinians living under Israeli military law. What
is the right word to describe that if that`s the status quo in perpetuity?
What`s the right way to describe that?
BLOCK: Well, it`s a good question, Chris. I don`t think we have to
consign ourselves or the Israelis, the Palestinians have to look at the
future and decide that, A, it`s the only one, or that it has to be a future
that`s in that situation forever.
You know, there are lots of creative situations you have heard in the past,
Jordanian citizenship and the West Bank being part of Jordan. You could
have -- you could -- you know, some people believe you can have a full -- a
full -- a full measure of equality and that there is no demographic threat
I hope we see a two-state solution. I think the vast majority of Israelis
do. But unfortunately, you have -- using language like that is not going
to help America advance that process. It`s going to give the Palestinians
a reason to pull away from peace. And that`s unfortunate.
HAYES: Josh Block from the Israel Project. Thanks for your time,
BLOCK: My pleasure.
HAYES: We are awaiting a live news conference from the Staples Center as
the L.A. Clippers get ready to give their pre-game take on what happened to
the team`s owner today. We`ll bring you that ahead.
HAYES: Today, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced his new
appointee for the Port Authority. That is the $8 billion budgeted bistate
agency at the center of the Bridgegate scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I intend to send for nomination to
the state Senate the name of former Attorney General John Degnan to be the
new chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Former New Jersey Attorney General John Degnan will replace David
Samson, Samson, of course, longtime Christie adviser and ally who survived
longer than a few of his fellow appointees at the Port Authority in the
wake of Bridgegate, but finally resigned from his post as Port Authority
chairman at the end of March.
Samson`s conflicts of interest in that position are so well legion, so
well-documented, it could very well take the rest of this program just to
go through all of it.
One imagines Christie`s people are hoping to turn the page in all this by
instating new leadership, but the page remained stubbornly stuck, because
right now the governor is being investigated by the following entities, the
special committee of the New Jersey state legislature, the U.S. attorney of
New Jersey, the U.S. attorney of New York, the Manhattan district attorney,
and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The last two investigations, however, aren`t about some traffic problems in
Fort Lee. The Manhattan DA is investigating the misuse of Port Authority
funds intended for the rebuilding of Ground Zero. Then news the SEC had
joined the investigation broke. At some point in the future, it is going
to harder to name those bodies not investigating Chris Christie and the
Port Authority than the ones that are.
So, welcome aboard, John Degnan. Good luck with your new job.
HAYES: We await a pregame news conference by the L.A. Clippers on a day of
historic action by NBA commissioner Adam Silver against L.A. Clippers owner
Joining me now is MSNBC host Craig Melvin, who is at the Clippers game
tonight in L.A.
I am jealous of that.
Craig, what`s the scene like there? It must be such a bizarre, bizarre
scene for an NBA playoff game.
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s an excellent way to describe it,
I spoke to the spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department just a
few minutes ago. There had been a number of planned demonstrations,
planned protests. Those have not materialized just yet.
Of course, we`re about two hours away from tipoff here at the Staples
Center, Clippers, Golden State Warriors, game five of the playoffs. But,
as you indicated, that game has been largely over shadowed by what has
played -- by what we have seen happen off the court over the past few days.
There was a social media campaign that was launched asking fans to show up
to the game tonight, asking them to show up and in protest to wear black.
And we have seen a lot of folks wearing black T-shirts. This is one of the
more popular black shirts that we have seen.
HAYES: That`s good.
MELVIN: As you can see on the front, "Los Angeles, Clip Him" and then on
the back the Clippers logo, "Sterling Minus One."
HAYES: That`s pretty good.
MELVIN: Yes, pretty clever.
We have seen a number of shirts that we actually can`t put on television,
even in prime time on cable news.
I have talked to a lot of folks here in Los Angeles over the course of the
past day or so. It`s very interesting to hear them not just talk about
Donald Sterling and how this has played out, but there are a lot of folks
who would like to see this end in a particular way.
A number of folks have said they would like to see Magic Johnson somehow
swoop and pick up this team. The team being valued now at somewhere around
$600 million. Even if Magic doesn`t have that kind of money, a number of
backers perhaps swooping in as well, saving the day.
It`s been very interesting to talk to folks about how they would like to
see this scenario play out over the next few months.
HAYES: Yes. Obviously, if that`s the case, the coup de grace there would
be to have V. Stiviano show up at the signing of the papers and Instagram
that for everybody to see. I think that would put the button on it.
HAYES: Craig Melvin, thank you for joining us. And enjoy the game.
MELVIN: Always good...
MELVIN: Thank you, sir.
HAYES: You can catch Craig`s show Saturdays at 2:00 Eastern, Sundays at
3:00 Eastern on MSNBC.
Do not go away.
HAYES: In just a few minutes, the Los Angeles Clippers will speak out for
the first time as a team in response to Donald Sterling`s remarks and the
NBA`s unprecedented decision today to ban him for life, as well as the next
steps the league may take, which may include forcing him to sell the team.
Stay with us for that. We will take it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SILVER: I didn`t poll the owners. I spoke to several owners, and I have
their full support. The owners have the authority, subject to three-
quarters vote of the ownership groups, of the partners, to remove him as an
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So, we await the pregame news conference of the L.A. Clippers.
It is clear that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will seek unprecedented
redress against Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Again, three-quarters of
the 30 NBA owners will need to vote in favor of stripping ownership from
Donald Sterling by forcing him to sell the team. That`s the next big step.
Joining me now, former NBA player Etan Thomas, Michael Eric Dyson, MSNBC
political analyst and professor at Georgetown University, and Dave Zirin,
my colleague at "The Nation," where he is sports editor. He`s also author
of "Game Over."
Dave, I have got to say I was surprised today. Everyone kind of in the
office was like, whoa, when Silver came out and make that announcement,
partly because I think we had gotten some reporting suggesting it was going
to be an indefinite ban.
Were you surprised? And what do you think brought this about?
DAVE ZIRIN, "THE NATION": Well, yes, dropped the hammer.
And I was not surprised, because I felt like Adam Silver was in a position
where he could do nothing but drop the hammer at this point. When you have
players staging protests, when you have coaches like Mark Jackson of the
Warriors did saying that the fans shouldn`t even show up at the game until
this is solved, when you have open discussions of boycotts and when you
have sponsors leaving in droves, then you actually hit the owners where it
hurts, and that`s in their pocketbooks or at least the fear that is going
to hit their pocketbooks.
I was not surprised that it happened. I was frankly more surprised at the
press conference afterwards with Kevin Johnson that he didn`t push on a
demand that he had said earlier, that he wants a full accounting from the
NBA about how they could have coddled this bigot for so many years.
HAYES: Etan, when we spoke last night, you said something that was really
interesting to me. You said, look, let`s not -- you have to let the
process play out. You talked about the due process.
You seemed actually fairly confident that there were going to be some
pretty intense sanctions today. How much communication do you think there
was from players basically saying, you better do this or good luck having
an NBA playoffs this season?
ETAN THOMAS, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Oh, no, there was a lot of communication.
I was proud of the way the players stood strong.
Everybody wanted them to do something drastic a little bit too early. But
they handled it maturely and they handled it strategically. They gave him
this time to do his due process. And that`s what they wanted to do. But
they wanted to let him know to make sure that if this doesn`t turn out
right, we are going to take further action, we are going to go a little bit
But they did what they were supposed to do. But what was really
interesting is that Donald Sterling is then defiant, saying he doesn`t want
to sell the team. It`s amazing. But he lacks character. And even when he
had his discrimination lawsuit in the past, he didn`t apologize for it. He
didn`t say, I`m sorry for what I did. He stood in defiance. He said, OK,
I am going to settle for $2.7 million, but I didn`t do anything wrong,
because he really doesn`t feel like he did anything wrong. He probably
feels like he`s the victim.
HAYES: Michael, I have been amazed by the reaction from owners that we
have seen so far, because it was only yesterday that Mark Cuban saying,
well, this is a slippery slope.
And you have got think, some of these owners are thinking, oh, my God, the
things that I have said in private that are going to show up on iPhone
recordings on TMZ. Do we want to kick someone out of the club? And then
where does this all end?
And that was not it today. It was boom, boom, boom, owner after owner
after owner after owner. What do you make of that?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: We were riding the Silver lightning
The reality is this, that Mark Cuban yesterday made that statement about
the slippery slope. He got right on that slippery slope and slipped right
on down with the rest of us.
DYSON: But, furthermore, he made a false equivalence. He said, what`s
next? What about homophobia and what about religion? Those are false
equivalencies, because there`s never been an outlawing in the same manner
that Jim Crow outlawed the ability of the races to intermingle.
And there was never the kind of institutional bulwark that was put in place
to impose penalty and harsh injury on anybody like it has been in this
country`s history at least with African-American people. The reality is
that the owners have to own up to the fact that race plays a unique role in
the history of this country and race has played a unique role in the
history of the NBA.
HAYES: Yes, forget the country for a second. Their league, that to me --
what you saw today...
DYSON: Is black.
HAYES: ... was you saw a bunch of wealthy white people look staring into
the headlights of an oncoming train.
But you could see the fear in everyone`s eyes when it`s like, well, guys,
who do you think plays in the league, who do you think buys your tickets,
and buys your jerseys, and watches the game that your advertisers sell
their product to, right, Dave? You could see the fear today.
It was an amazing moment to see the power dynamic of what everyone in that
league understood was going to come down on them if they didn`t do
something fairly dramatic here.
ZIRIN: There is no question about it.
One of the differences is that Adam Silver, as he announced today -- and I
really think this was part of today -- is not David stern. David Stern,
who was the commissioner for 30 years, someone who had coddled Donald
Sterling for lo the many years, who didn`t do anything when the housing
discrimination slumlord lawsuits went down, he`s out of the picture.
And so Adam Silver was uniquely able to say, we are turning the page. Adam
Silver -- when we talk about these things, there is form and there`s
content. The content was very -- as we said, the hammer comes down. But
the form could not be more different than David Stern, who always adopted
this kind of pompous attitude when he would be up there, as if he was the
godfather pulling all the strong, as if he was reading his own press
HAYES: Dave, I`m going to cut you off there, because we actually have
Clippers coach Doc Rivers right now.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
DOC RIVERS, L.A. CLIPPERS HEAD COACH: Hello, everybody.
I come with no notes or no prepped statement here.
This last three or four days have been very difficult for everybody
involved. And no matter what the race is, it`s been difficult. And I
thought Adam Silver today was fantastic, personally.
I thought he made a decision that really was the right one that had to be
made. You know, I don`t think this is something that we rejoice in or
anything like that. You know, I told the players, you know, about the
And, you know, I think they were just happy that it was a resolution and it
is over, at least the start of it to be. And other than that, you know, I
was just really proud of them. I have been proud of the players in the NBA
overall. I have been proud of the ownership throughout the league.
And I think we`re all in a better place because of this. So I would like
to open up to any questions.
QUESTION: Doc, when you first sat down, you had a -- right over here. You
sat there and had this big sigh of relief. Is that how you feel about
things? Is that the way your teammates, your players also feel about it?
This is finally behind us? And can you move forward now?
RIVERS: Well, we can move forward. We have to.
You always have to move forward. And, you know, like -- and I have said
this before. Obviously, I have dealt with issues before. You know, you
learn over and over, you know, that when something like that happens with
the burden of racism, it always falls on the person who has been offended
And I have always thought that that is interesting. You know, I felt the
pressure on my players. You know, everyone was waiting for them to give a
response. And, you know, I kept thinking they didn`t do anything, you
know, yet they have to respond. And so Adam responded.
And I thought that that was the sigh of relief that we needed. Is this
over? No, it is not over. But it is the start of a healing process that
we need. And it is the start for our organization, you know, to try to get
And that is very important. I know we have a game. And I have given that
some thought, obviously. But I do think this has been more important. And
I think our players have done the best that they possibly could do in this
QUESTION: Coach, did you at any time or your players realize that you were
working for a man who held such racist views? And did you ever witness any
RIVERS: No, I different. Obviously, we have stuff. I mean, you have
heard all the other stuff.
But, listen, it had not happened to us. We had not seen it, so the answer
would be no. And, listen, I came here on good faith. And everything I
have asked, they have allowed me to do. But then this happened, and there
QUESTION: You had said at one point that you were a little ambivalent
about next year and coming back. Does this decision kind of give you some
clarity about going forward with the Clippers?
RIVERS: No, listen, I haven`t thought about it.
Like, I had not thought about leaving, staying. I just -- and the main
reason is honestly is, this should not be about me, this -- about me and
what I`m doing or want to do. I want to coach. I love coaching. I have
enjoyed these guys.
And other than that, really, I think Jim or someone asked that question.
And, honestly, I don`t have an answer because I haven`t given it zero
thought as far as that goes. Obviously, Adam`s decision, if there was
going to be one made, makes mine easier.
QUESTION: Doc, do you need to see -- over here. Do you need to see
progress toward the sale of the team for you to be more comfortable and
your players to be comfortable here? Do you need to see -- again, Donald
still owns the team. And do you need to see progress toward that for you
to be comfortable here?
RIVERS: I think we`re just going to let this whole thing play its course
or run its course. And then we will all have better clarity.
I am not in the position, nor do I want to be in the position where it
sounds like I`m threatening anything. I want my players to be comfortable,
honestly. I think that is the most important thing. And so let`s just see
where it goes with them. And that is important for me, is they`re
QUESTION: Now that the NBA has come out and said this is definitely Mr.
Sterling`s voice, if Mr. Sterling were before you right now, what would you
say to him?
RIVERS: I don`t know. I haven`t given it any thought.
I don`t know the answer to that question. I think we have dealt with
people who have said bad things before, racially or in another way. And I
think the thing you would like to do to anyone like that who feels that way
is, you would like to change it. That is what I would like to do. I would
like to change anyone`s mind who feels that way.
QUESTION: Coach, now that you know the voice on that recording was Donald
Sterling, do you still want to work for him?
RIVERS: I don`t know if I am. I really don`t. That is the point of this.
That is why Adam did what he did.
QUESTION: Will you continue if he still owns the team next season?
RIVERS: I don`t know if he will. So let`s just, again, let it all run its
course. And we will find that out.
It is a good question, and I`m not trying to be a smart aleck, but I just
think we just have to wait and see what happens. Like I said, I think once
we do have the answer, the clarity for everyone -- and it is not just me.
Ralph Lawler has been here forever, and he is affected by this, too. We
all are. And so I think everyone wants to know who they`re working for.
And I think that is very important.
QUESTION: Doc, had this decision not come down today, was there concern on
your part that your players would have refused to play?
I would say that, but they were waiting for a decision. And that clearly
could have happened. That was one of the reasons I didn`t have practice
yesterday in a clear practice situation. When you get blown out like you
get blown out, you probably should have a practice. I just didn`t think it
would make any sense to do it.
I thought they needed to just go home and be with their families and
breathe a little bit, you know? And so knowing that Adam was going to have
a press conference today, I just felt like we knew that there would be some
kind of resolution. That is also why we were -- I was almost happy that it
was during -- his announcement was during our practice.
So, I mean, doing the announcement, none of the players were watching it.
We were actually practicing, preparing a game, because that is what our
jobs are. And then afterward is when they found out. And so I think, in
that way, that all turned out good.
QUESTION: Doc, in the short time you have been around them, have you
gotten a sense that they`re more capable of being comfortable tonight?
QUESTION: And can they play with the freedom that you would like them to
RIVERS: Yes, I`m hoping.
Listen, the basketball part of it, we have prepared them as best as you
could. Emotions drain energy. I know that. I felt that the other night.
And when you watch it on tape, we were slow in everything. And that is
because of all the emotions that have gone into this. Quite honestly, I
didn`t think our guys had enough in them, in the tank.
I think that they have been able to breathe a little bit more over the last
day-and-a-half. And I`m hoping that they`re up for the task. I do think
that this will be a safe haven tonight for us. I think our crowd will be
And I think that will help them. Adrenalin will be good for us. I think
we actually need it.
QUESTION: Doc, can you give us a sense upon talking to the players what
their reaction was, how they were feeling?
RIVERS: It was during a film session.
And I just in the middle of it just kind of said what happened and what
Adam had said. And, honestly, there was nothing in the room at that time
when I said it. It was complete silence. And then I said what I thought I
needed to tell them. And then we went right back to film.
QUESTION: Doc, the commissioner made it clear that he would like ownership
to change with this team. And as uncomfortable as it might be to answer
this question, do you think it would be best if Donald Sterling was no
longer owner of this team for everyone?
RIVERS: Well, I don`t think he will be. I think that has been clear. I
think Adam made that clear. Unless there is something different than a
lifetime ban, a lifetime ban is a lifetime ban.
So I think that has already been decided. And, yes, I do think that is the
right decision. The next step is, where do we go? You think about I`m
coaching a team right now, and I actually don`t know who to call if I need
something, you know?
And, so, the quicker that this is done, the better for everyone. Having
said that, it`s going to take time.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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