LOS ANGELES (AP) — NBA players strongly considered boycotting playoff games if Commissioner Adam Silver hadn’t ruled harshly against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
Players’ union Vice President Roger Mason Jr. said Tuesday he spoke to representatives from every playoff team about the possibility of boycotting the upcoming postseason games in solidarity against any ruling that didn’t include a mandate for Sterling to sell the Clippers.
“We didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but we were prepared that if this decision came down, we were prepared to move forward that way,” Mason said. “We didn’t think that this was just a Clippers issue, so we didn’t want to put the pressure on Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and that team. We wanted to band behind our brothers to do the right thing.”
The Clippers hosted the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, one of three playoff games on the NBA schedule. Three more are scheduled for Wednesday.
Before Game 5 on Tuesday night, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he wasn’t certain his players had formally discussed a boycott. He thought the Clippers instead were just hoping for a suitable response from Silver.
“I think they had the trust that there would be,” Rivers said. “I’m glad we don’t have to find out.”
The Clippers and Warriors weren’t made available to reporters before Game 5.
Mason believes every team would have embraced a boycott, and the veteran guard said Silver was made aware of the possibility of the unprecedented move by Kevin Johnson, the Sacramento mayor and former NBA player who is advising the union on the issue.
“I spoke to (Warriors forward) Jermaine O’Neal, and he pretty much said that their team would be on board,” Mason said.
During a news conference at Los Angeles City Hall, several current and former players proclaimed their support for Silver’s decision. Sterling was fined $2.5 million and banned from the NBA for life for racist comments made in a recorded conversation.
Silver also said he will urge the NBA’s board of governors to compel Sterling to sell the Clippers.
“We were very clear that anything other than Sterling selling his team was not going to be enough for us,” Mason said.
Mason said the players aren’t yet completely satisfied. They want a concrete timetable for the board governors’ vote necessary to force Sterling to sell his team.
But Mason is confident the other NBA owners will vote to force Sterling to sell.
“I know a lot of the owners personally from spending time in negotiations, and I would be shocked if it wasn’t unanimous,” Mason said.