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CNN NEWSROOM

NBA News Conference with Adam Silver on Sterling - Conclusion; Los Angeles Mayor Holds Press Conference on Sterling

Aired April 29, 2014 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: I did not speak directly to his representatives about this ban. They were informed shortly before this press conference. I did not hear precisely what their reaction was.

OK?

ROBERT SILVERMAN, THE DAILY BEAST: Robert Silverman from "The Daily Beast." Has there been any decisions about whether the immediate members of Sterling's family, including Rochelle, and his -- will be allowed to remain in an ownership or managerial position in the league as well?

SILVER: No, there have been no decisions about other members of the Sterling family. And I should say that this ruling applies specifically to Donald Sterling, and Donald Sterling's conduct only.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixth row on the right.

MIKE MCCARTHY, COMMISSIONER: Commissioner, Mike McCarthy from (INAUDIBLE). As you mentioned, over a dozen sponsors have dropped the Clippers. What has been the financial impact on this franchise, and on the league from this scandal?

SILVER: Mike, I don't know. This is all happening in three days. And so I'm hopeful that there will be no long-term damage to the league and to the Clippers organization. But as I said earlier, I'm outraged, so I certainly understand other people's outrage. And it will take some time. This will take some time. And appropriate healing will be necessary. I can understand precisely why -- you know, whether they be people who affiliated with the NBA or Clippers for a long time, or the corporate partners, I can understand how upset they are. And I'll do my best to bring them back into the NBA family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixth row, in the middle.

SEAN GREGORY, THE TIMES: Sean Gregory from the "Times." If the three-fourths does not force the sale, can you still institute the lifetime ban?

SILVER: The lifetime ban has been instituted. That is independent of forcing a sale of the team.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the middle. Mike Bacarro (ph), please. MIKE BACARRO, NEW YORK POST: Mike Bacarro (ph), "New York Post." Can you share with us what your initial reaction was when you first heard the voice on the tape, and what it was espousing?

SILVER: When I first heard it, I was shocked. I was hoping somehow that it was fraudulent, or it had been doctored. That possibly it wasn't indeed Donald Sterling. I've known Donald for over 20 years. So I suspected it was his voice. And we set about immediately investigating. That was my reaction to sort of bear down and say, let's get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sixth row on the right at the end?

UNIDENTIFIED ABC CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) from ABC. Mayor Johnson has indicated he would like the league to undertake a full accounting of Donald Sterling's past and the failures by the NBA to act until now. Is that an account you would be willing to undertake? And would you make any effort to mete out the personal views of other NBA owners at this point?

SILVER: I've had, as I said earlier, multiple conversations with Kevin Johnson. And I'm hoping that the actions we take today will satisfy our players. I believe they should.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right in front on the right.

JOHN WEINSTEIN, NEW YORK ONE: Commissioner, I'm John Weinstein from "New York One." Can you just tell us, you said you've known Donald Sterling for 20 years? What have your interactions over those 20 years been like with him? Have you ever seen anything like this? Have you ever felt anything like this? And what kind of man would you judge him to be prior to this?

SILVER: I have not been that close to him over the years, but there's nothing I've ever seen in his behavior that would evidence these kinds of views. I've certainly -- again, because there has been a lot of public filings about his activities, I've been aware of those accusations, but there's nothing I've seen firsthand that would indicate that he held the views that were expressed on these audio recordings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in the middle, please. Raise your hand so he can see you. Thank you.

HOWARD MANDEL (ph), SPORTS ON EARTH. Commissioner, Howard Mandel (ph), "Sports on Earth." I'm curious, just, you spoke about your personal response to this. In terms of Donald Sterling self- identifying as Jewish, and you doing the same as well, I'm wondering if there was a specific kind of pain associated with that for you, and if you felt a certain responsibility within the Jewish community to be responding to this in this way?

SILVER: I think my response was as a human being. And I use the word "distraught" before. I spoke on Saturday morning directly to Chris Paul, to Doc Rivers. And it wasn't even anger at that point. There was a certain somberness. And frankly, I felt sort of most strongly and personally for that team. While this affects every player and anyone associated with the NBA family, that for those players, and those coaches to go out and do what they need to do, and play at the highest level in the world, and have them hanging over this, I think caused me to have a certain sadness, I would say, about the entire situation. I think this is regardless of anyone's religion, ethnicity, nationality, I think this is incredibly hurtful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll take two more. Back by the cameras.

JOSE VASARI (ph), PIX 11 NEWS (ph): Mr. Silver, Joe Vasari (ph), PIX 11 News (ph)." At any time during your conversation with Mr. Sterling, did he express any remorse or denial regarding these comments?

SILVER: Mr. Sterling has not expressed those views directly to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to take two more. Andrew right here for one.

ANDREW ARASIO (ph): Commissioner, Andrew Arasio (ph) again. It's been suggested that the Sacramento players -- I'm sorry, the Clippers players be granted free agency at the end of this year as a result of this issue. Is that something that can be considered?

SILVER: That is not something we're considering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Final question in the back in the middle.

JASON PAGE (ph), NBC SPORTS RADIO: Jason Page (ph), "NBC Sports Radio." If you don't get the three-quarter vote that you need, is it possible that Donald Sterling could still be an absentee owner profiting from this team?

SILVER: I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Adam.

Transcripts will be available later this afternoon. We will e-mail them out. Give us your e-mail addresses and we'll get it out to you.

Thank you very much.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: There you have it, the bombshell news with regard to L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. Couple of points we just heard from the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver. Let me just run down them for you.

First of all, we heard, according to the NBA, Mr. Sterling has been banned for life from any association with the Clippers team, with the NBA. That includes going to games, going to practice, stepping inside any kind of facility, any involvement with the board of governors, the group of owners of the NBA teams. That was number one.

Number two, he will be facing a $2.5 million fine. That is the maximum amount of money they could fine him under the NBA constitution. That money will end up being donated then to organizations of diversity, inclusion. That money will be donated, the $2.5 million.

Here's the third point. This is what people were listening for with regard to a possible forced vote, getting this man out of his job as the Clippers owner. The precise word from Adam Silver was "urge." He will urge the owners to force a sale of the team. And that forced urging, he says, will begin immediately.

So let me bring in our entire panel, just to marinate, really, on what we just heard. Jerry Stackhouse, sitting next to me, 18 seasons with the NBA, most recently with the Brooklyn Nets; and also Thurl Bailey, vice president of the NBA Retired Players Association, also a former player. Stephanie Elam is standing outside the Staples Center for us, hours away from game time tonight, the first home game since the controversy erupted. Rachel Nichols, we will get her a microphone momentarily. She got question number two to Adam Silver there inside of the NBA news conference. And we have David Cornwell, sports attorney. All voices we want to hear from here as we've heard the news from the NBA.

Jerry Stackhouse, first to you.

You were nodding along. We were talking sort of through this entire thing, and you were pleased.

JERRY STACKHOUSE, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I was. I was very pleased with the outcome. I think as far as the constitution stands, he pushed it all the way to the limit. He gave him the maximum fine, banned him for life. He can't be part of the NBA or Clippers organization, or any other organization for that matter. And he's going to push the owners to really get him out of our game. I think that's going to be a tougher road, because he has ownership. And what that number is, I think that's going to have to sweeten the pot for him to go away. I think ultimately it will get him out of our game.

BALDWIN: As we were talking, this is a man, Donald Sterling, he's worth something like $2 billion as it is. Bought the team, the Clippers, for how much?

STACKHOUSE: $12 million.

BALDWIN: $12 million. Now could turn around and it's worth some $500 million, $600 million. Worst case from him, if the forced sale happens, this man walks away an even richer man, correct?

STACKHOUSE: Absolutely. He's always been an owner that has benefited from the revenue sharing. Up until recently, the Clippers were never really a contingent team, never put a lot of money into.

BALDWIN: Until this season.

STACKHOUSE: Until this season. I think that it's unfortunate for the players, for our league that we have to deal with this. But it's great we can move forward and know we don't have people that are that blatant and that type of view still in our game.

BALDWIN: Rachel Nichols is standing by. She's got a microphone. There she is inside that room.

Rachel, wow, seemed to me we were just talking, Jerry Stackhouse and I, listening to Adam Silver, he seemed -- I mean, this was personal. The words he was using, hateful opinions, deeply offensive, harmful, condemning. This was major news today.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Look, this is his league. This is the league that he's dedicated his entire life to. He may be a new commissioner, but he's worked in this league for more than two decades. This is a league that has gone out of its way to pride itself on diversity, hiring the first African-American general managers, the African-American majority owner. They have a great track record with women. Jason Collins, who is a gay basketball player, now active in the NBA.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Rachel, forgive me, I've got to pull away. We've got a lot of balls in the air right now. We want to go straight now to Los Angeles. We'll come back to you in New York.

This is the mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti. Also standing next to him, one of the guys, Kevin Johnson, adviser to the NBA Players Association. Let's listen.

ERIC GARCETTI, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: And thank you all for coming here today, especially to my friends who are standing here alongside with me. And especially Kevin Johnson, my peer as a mayor, certainly not my peer as a basketball player. But a great man, a leader for players.

I want to make clear that what we just heard today isn't just about basketball. This is about Los Angeles. The Clippers have on their Jerseys this city's name, a name that stands for tolerance, openness, diversity. It stands for civil rights. It stands for break-throughs. And most of all, it stands for basketball excellence. We may be a two-team town, but today we are behind one team. And the players of the Los Angeles Clippers, who tonight we want to know that we love you, we are behind you, and that today we feel like justice has begun to be served.

The statements that we have heard that we have confirmed are the exact opposite of what this town is about. And today we stand as angels in this city, saying we will not tolerate this from anybody, from any company, least of all, one that bears this great city's name. So I want to personally thank Commissioner Silver for bringing down the hammer, for being as strong as he could be, for saying that none of us as Americans, and certainly not as Angeles, this city is open for business. It is ready for greatness. That is reflected behind me.

I'll say a few more words in a moment, but I want to toss this over to my partner who has been a great adviser to the commissioner, to the fellow players, and certainly to me as mayor. He is the mayor of Sacramento, and basketball legend, please welcome Mayor Kevin Johnson.

(APPLAUSE) KEVIN JOHNSON, MAYOR OF SACRAMENTO & FORMER NBA PLAYER: I want to thank the Mayor Garcetti for opening up city hall to us today and certainly for his remarks. This is an example for all of us that this is bigger than basketball. And there's a number of people behind me, I want to thank all the current players that are behind me. I want to thank all the former players that are behind me, and certainly the future players. We are trying to set an example for them.

I want to thank city council members. We have our president of the city council here. We have civic leadership. We have civil rights organizations. We have business and labor. Everybody united today.

So in terms of where we are, this is a defining moment in our history. Throughout history, sports has played a pivotal role in advancing civil rights: Tony Smith, John Carlos, at the 1968 Olympics; great leaders like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Arthur Ashe, Jason Collins, and our very own Jackie Robinson. I believe that today stands as one of those great moments, where sports, once again, transcends, where sports provides a place for fundamental change on how our country should think and act.

This is also a statement about where we are as a country. It doesn't matter if you're a professional basketball player worth millions of dollars, or a man or woman who works hard for their family. There will be zero tolerance for institutional racism, no matter how rich or powerful.

Let me say how proud I am of the players of this league for standing up for themselves. The biggest stars to the everyday players, they were not afraid to articulate their outrage, and what they felt about this situation. They came out strong, they came out powerful, and they did it in a very, very professional way.

The players asked me to represent them. I was humbled and honored. And they said to me, Mayor, we want you to go to Commissioner Silver and tell him three things that are important for us. Number one, we need immediate action. Number two, we need the players' voice to be heard, our collective voice. We want a seat at the table and we do not want to be passive participants. And thirdly, we want maximum allowable punishment under the bylaws and the constitution, and what that equates to for us as players, there must be a change in ownership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right!

(APPLAUSE)

JOHNSON: The players spoke. They acted. And they were listened to. The Players Association is an organization that doesn't just represent one player, but it represents over 450 players in the NBA. It represents the golden state warriors, it represents the L.A. Clippers, it represents the L.A. Lakers, it represents 30 teams around this league. And this league of players are standing together in one voice.

The NBA constitution states this: "The commissioner shall be charged with protecting the integrity of the game and preserving public confidence to our fans." Today, the players believe the commissioner has done his duty. On this day, Adam Silver is not only the owners' commissioner. He is also the players' commissioner. And we're proud to call him our commissioner.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHNSON: I want to also say, this is a very stark reminder that we still have a lot of work to do. Yes, we have an African-American president. Yes, justice was in a swift manner and forceful. Yes, that occurred today. 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.

At this point in time, I want to say on behalf of the players, we are so proud of our mayor of this great city of Los Angeles, the other mayors who came out today. And you're going to hear from three or four players that represent current players, former players. And then we'll open it up to questions after Mayor Garcetti closes us out.

So at this time, I'd like to invite up the first vice president of the Players Association, Roger Mason.

(APPLAUSE)

ROGER MASON, VICE PRESIDENT, PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: First of all, I'd like to thank Mayor Garcetti and Mayor Johnson, who have been so helpful for us at the Players Association, and all the work he's been doing for us.

I have a few important points that I would like to talk about today. I'm here today on behalf of the MVPA, the executive committee, in over 400 current players. As you heard earlier, this was not just about us players, to be clear. This wasn't just about black or white. This really was about right and wrong. This has offended people across the board, and we will not be discriminated against.

Yesterday, we had a call that Mayor Johnson had for us as players with executive committee members, player reps and players across the league. Mayor Johnson asked us what our views on the situation were. As you heard, we gave him three points. 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. I'm happy to come here to say today that, 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's going to happen. But we feel confident that with Adam Silver's urging. And obviously, we've heard from a lot of the owners from around the league, we think this is something that can be handled quickly.

Finally, I just want to thank all the players who have not only been professional, but have been just tremendous with their support, and I want to thank everybody behind me, all the former players, current players, and everybody that banded together for this really historic event.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHNSON: So, I want you guys to know that last night, until 12:00, 1:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning, 5:00 in the morning, these players were all communicating. They cared about what was going to take place.

I talked to a former teammate of mine, Steve Nash, late last night. We went back and forth. He rearranged his schedule.

At this point, I would like Steve Nash to come represent current players.

(APPLAUSE)

STEVE NASH, NBA PLAYER, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Thank you, Mayor.

Wow, this is an astonishing situation, obviously. And after initial outrage, disappointment, and sadness, I think today is a proud moment, not only for the Players Association, current and former players, the NBA. And as a father of three, and member of this community, I want to thank both mayors, the Players Association, and Adam Silver for quick, unequivocal, and concise decision made today on behalf of everybody involved in this situation.

It begs a bigger question, you know. If racism is a learned behavior, how long will it go on for? You know, how long will people be taught to be bigoted, to discriminate, and to instill hatred in our communities? Let's hope this is an opportunity for all of us as players, former players, as a league, as a community, to help educate and take one step further to eradicating racism in our communities.

Again, this is a proud day for all of us players, for our league, and I want to thank everybody for all their hard work to find this quick resolution. And hopefully, we can see out Adam Silver's decision today to make this thing a thing of the past as quickly as possible.

Thank you

(APPLAUSE)

JOHNSON: At this point I want to thank Tyson for coming as well, and Luke.

I'm just so proud of this fraternity we call the NBA. We have said time and time again, we are one family. And it's not just a league of owners, or league of players. We're one family. And when one rotten apple does something, or if you see cancer, you've got to cut it out really quickly. Commissioner Silver did that in real time. And again, we're just so proud and thankful for him.

At this time, I'm going to do something a little different. I want to bring up the captain, the one and only -- Y'all can go ahead and clap. (APPLAUSE)

I'm going to bring up Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

(CHEERING)

(APPLAUSE)

JOHNSON: When you think about what Magic Johnson means to this league, there was one man that influenced him early in his career, and it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. You know he's quiet, reads a lot, tries to mind his own business. But what took place three days ago got the big fellow up, and got on the road the last couple days. He's been up half the night articulating his views.

So I'd like Kareem to come up, and all the former Lakers to stand beside him.

(APPLAUSE)

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: Thank you, Mayor Kevin. I don't know if I'll ever get used to that. But thank you so much.

I just want to say -- if I start stuttering, it's because I haven't gotten much sleep in the past couple of days because this really bothered me. But I'm just thrilled with what Commissioner Silver did. He got on the case immediately. He got to the bottom of whatever mysteries that there were involved in this and figured out what the truth was. And his actions and focus were so on the mark, it was unbelievable. You should have heard us in there when we were listening to the press conference. We all started clapping, because he handled it the right way. I'm so happy that he did that.

And it's going to be a new day here in this city. And a whole lot of Clipper fans are going to have a lot more to smile about. And that's what this is all about.

So again, I'm thrilled that -- with the outcome. Most of the players I've spoken to, just since the press conference, feel the same way. And we're looking forward to some very positive changes that will make this city an even more wonderful place than it already is.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHNSON: At this time I'll bring up Mayor Garcetti back.

And there are a lot of council members. I'll have you guys come hang around, since you're probably rooting for the Clippers right now. I'll give the Clippers fans an opportunity to have full force.

Mayor Garcetti and the council members?

GARCETTI: Thank you. I want to thank Herb, the council president, for his leadership. Council Members Price and Parks had spoken out and introduced motions that I think might have influenced the commissioner. Council Member O'Farrell, Sadio, Chris; City Attorney Mike Fuhrer, who is here, all of the city family. This is really one city.

When you get this many Lakers to stand up for the Clippers, you know something big is happening in L.A.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

GARCETTI: And we are a single team here today. A team not only speaking out for what we're against --

BALDWIN: We're going to pull away from this just momentarily. We've got the heads-up the mayor is about to speak in Spanish. What we heard moments ago from him, so we promise we'll take you back. He's going to take some questions from folks in the crowd. But while we're watching this, it was Kevin Johnson who said, "We are one."

Before we go to Rachel Nichols, guys, go ahead and throw up the screen grab from NBA.com. This black-and-white screen grab really tells the story of where the league is. Really, this story is bigger than basketball. "We are one," with the L.A. Clipper logo. If you go to NBA.com right now, that is what you will see.

Rachel Nichols, let me go to you.

You were in the packed room when we heard the news from the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, delivering a pretty stiff blow, as stiff as he could in his constitutional rights as NBA commissioner. What did you think of the whole thing?

NICHOLS: I think it was fascinating. Certainly, he stepped up and did as much as he could with his full power. As you just heard there, the players are thrilled about it. I've already gotten a bunch of texts from players around the league. They feel great about what Adam Silver did.

And Adam took it a step further. He said he's going to strongly encourage the other owners and the board of governors to force the sale of the L.A. Clippers. Now, that is going to be an interesting proposition, as you heard him say. And we've been talking about this on CNN all day. He needs three-quarters of the other owners or their agents to agree to do this. That's a high percentage. And there's a lot of fervor today as this plays out over the coming days and weeks if he can collect that votes.

You may have heard me ask in the press conference has he polled the other owners. He said he hasn't, but the owners he spoke to he's gotten support from. It will be interesting to see if those are the people supporting him and how much support he has around the league with those owners. We did hear one of the owners, Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, say yesterday he's concerned about, quote, "the slippery slope of giving the commissioner too much power." That gives you an indication there's some trepidation among ownership of, hey, if we force Donald Sterling out today, and we give Adam Silver this power, is it me who's going to be forced out tomorrow. Mark Cuban tweeted this afternoon that he's happy with Adam Silver's decision. Perhaps he's had a change of heart. And maybe the way Adam Silver is going about this goes far as well. He said I'm going to go to the owners and ask them to vote three-quarters vote to vote Donald Sterling out. So that's still letting the owners retain their power. A split down the middle. Maybe that's the way he was able to do this. If he's successful, it will be unprecedented. A genius move to maneuver to get what he wants.

BALDWIN: Rachel, let me follow up with you.

And guys in the control room just got in my ear, they're taking questions and answers in L.A. and we'll pop you back that way. But, Rachel, here is where I want to push you on that, because just talking to Jerry Stackhouse here in the studio, the point being that Donald Sterling has been in this position, he's the longest-tenured owner in franchise history. I have to imagine he's brought in himself some of these current owners, brought them up, showed them how to do this, be part of the league, own teams. Would the vote be private? Would it be public? Would these people be willing to, in a sense, turn on him?

NICHOLS: The result is going to be public. Certainly, the votes themselves are private. But of course, owners who vote for it are proud of it. We'll just say they'll leak out what their decision is. I'm sure we'll hear in the coming days some owners make a stand publicly because they want to and they know that it will engender support among players and fans.