The Reid Report   |  April 30, 2014

What Sterling’s ban means for the NBA

NBA Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens and former L.A. Clippers player Norm Nixon share their thoughts on the NBA’s lifetime ban of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and if the ban represents true progress in banishing racism from pro sports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> columnist with the " san jose mercury news" says a walkout might have affected all three nba playoff games . what stopped it? a press conference hours before in the controversy amid donald sterling . the nba declared on tuesday it had authenticated the tape and believed the male voice on the tape to be that of sterling. his punish 349, a lifetime ban and a fine of $2.5 million, the maximum the nba can levy under its rules. also commissioner adam silver said he will do everything in his power to force the sale of the team, force donald sterling out of the nba altogether. we'll have more on that possibility later in the show. but yesterday, everyone from owners to former to current players were high-fiving the decision. and today, even the white house indicated its satisfaction with the outcome.

>> the president believes that the nba has done the right thing.

>> essentially everyone was declaring mission accomplished , except for one guy. roger mason jr., vice president of the nba players' association and the one person during two press conferences and lots of media events yesterday to note this is not over. mission not accomplished. at least not yet.

>> as players, we're very happy with the decision, but we're not content yet. we want immediate action. we want a timetable from the owners as far as when this vote will 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.

>> lenny wilkins is an nba legend inducted into the hall of fame as both a player and a coach. and norm nixon is a former all-star who played for both l.a. teams. thank you both for being here. appreciate it.

>> thank you, joy.

>> thank you.

>> i want to start with you first, norm. there has been this kind of sense of mission accomplished , that i sensed yesterday, where everyone was saying this is great, that the nba took action, let's all get back to the game. did it strike you as that being premature?

>> it's not premature. i think we all felt for the players because those guys were in the toughest position. it's their jobs. we play our entire lives to when a championship. this team was knocking at the door to win a championship. i think the actions that the commissioner took were the type of actions that were necessary, in order for those guys to go out and play comfortable. the whole world was watching them to see how are they going to respond. as mason said, the mission is not accomplished yet. i think these guys want to see a vote to make sure that mr. sterling is no longer an nba owner.

>> or what? i think that is sort of begs the question. let's answer that question, actually, first, norm. or what? let's say time goes on and this man is not forced out of ownership of the team, should those players resume their threat to walk out?

>> i think you will see major action. i can't speak for them but those guys planned to walk out on the eastern and western conference game. if it goes past the playoffs, you'll see more sponsors pulling out. there will definitely be pressure on the sponsors to take action. this attitude is not welcome in any rt part of our society, in particular, the nba . sports has always been a place and a platform that has pushed racial relationships throughout our history. mr. wilkins is one of our pioneers in this league. i'm sure when he played it was a lot different than when i played or a lot different from what these guys were doing right now. in our sport, there's no place for this. as a matter of fact, in no part of our society.

>> lenny wilkins , you've been a coach. i want to let you listen to doc rivers who is the coach of the clippers and what he said in a pregame press conference yesterday. this was after the nba press conference. take a listen.

>> is this over? no, it's not over. but it's the start of a healing process that we need and it's the start for our organization. you know, to try to get through this.

>> and lenny wilkins , the coach is obviously in the middle. these players worked hard to get where they were. there were questions about did he have any idea of who he was working for? i mean, talk a little bit about the position doc rivers was in.

>> well, you know, doc was in a very difficult position, joy. there's no way that he would know that unless he hung out with donald sterling . and doc rivers was not hanging out with donald sterling . many years ago, i was offered a job with the clippers. and the reason i turned the job down was not that i knew he was -- had some racial problems. it was that he didn't feel the team was important enough to tend to business. that's why i didn't go. but i thought doc handled it magnificently. you know? you assess the situation. the game is bigger than all of us. and once he got the answer or the response from adam silver , then he tried to eradicate from their minds, although you can't do it completely because it's not going to go away until that guy is out of basketball.

>> you say the game is bigger than us . i think part of the visceral reaction that we're seeing, i'm seeing in my social media and a lot of others are seeing is the sense that the game is bigger than individual people. that actually not being a good thing. essentially everyone sort of pooled together to make sure the game went on. is there any discomfort? i'll start with you, lenny wilkins and go to norm on that. do you have any discomfort about the idea that everyone closed ranks to make sure the game could go on, rather than seeing it through to the end to make sure this man could no longer profit from the game?

>> we're going to make sure that happens, okay? so, no, i thought it was good that everybody came together. listen, i've been through these type of circumstances. i remember when we threatened to strike an all-star game, okay? when we got a satisfaction response, we went on and played the game. but we also made sure that the collective bargaining went on after that where we did get things that we wanted. so they're going to make sure of that. there's no question about that. but right now, you've got to start the healing process so that we can communicate, so that we can make sure that we do get him out of our league.

>> norm, in getting your answer, i want to read you something that's on the sport blogs sb nation. his girlfriend's dispute with his wife brought him down, not the federal lawsuit for housing discrimination . where was everyone in 2003 , when sterling was sued for the same thing by private parties?

>> those lawsuits were settled. all that information is public knowledge but i don't think players were trying to dig into that, to find out more about this guy. i think we had all heard grumblings. in this situation, we heard the voice. we heard him in a private situation which is unfortunate that in his private situation his conversation was taped. but you got a sense of who this guy really is. he was speaking from his heart. i think once that became obvious, you had to act. someone made the statement that the owners should not be on the clippers. like coach wilkins said, they threatened to strike the all-star game. the onus was on the superstars in this league. they always bring up tommy smith and john carlos . the owners weren't on them as individuals, but there's a time and place in history when decisions must be made and sometimes you have to it be a martyr. i think those guys were in a position where they had to do something. fortunately for them, adam silver came down to the fullest extent of his power. now there's due process that has to take place. if that is answer is not satisfactory, you will see more people react and more things stage and happening to ensure that he's not in basketball any longer.

>> indeed. i think the untold story of this entire ordeal and hopefully it will come out in more detail is the players who really forced the hand of the nba . i think you're right about that. i think roger mason jr. spoke for a lot of people yesterday as did you gentlemen today. lenny wilkins , norm nixon , thank you both.

>> thank you.

>> thank you for having us.