Players Threatened Boycott if NBA Failed to Act

The tough stance taken by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in response to ultimatums put forth by the Players Association.

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver at press conference April 29, 2014, in New York City, where he announced that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling would be banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million for racist comments in released audio recordings.

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Sterling found out his punishment when everyone else did, according to Fox News' Jim Gray, who spoke to the Los Angeles Clippers owner moments before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that he would encourage members of the NBA board of governors to force Sterling to sell the team and that Sterling would face a lifetime ban from the NBA for racist ramblings that were recorded and leaked to TMZ.

Sterling told the longtime sportscaster that he had no idea what was about to happen and that no one from the NBA, prior to the press conference, had contacted him. Sterling told Gray before the announcement that he didn't want to go on record but that the "Clippers were not for sale."

Now that the hefty sanctions have been levied against Sterling, the details of the behind-the-scenes negotiating are coming to light. Former NBA player and Sacramento, Calif., Mayor Kevin Johnson, who worked on behalf of the National Basketball Players Association in an advisory role, announced Tuesday at a press conference that the players had given him a strict set of guidelines they wanted met in the negotiations.

First, Johnson said, they wanted immediate action. Second was that they wanted to make sure they had "a seat at the table" during the negotiations. And last, they wanted a change in ownership of the Clippers.

In an extended statement posted to his Facebook page before Silver's announcement, Johnson wrote this:

The NBPA has asked Commissioner Silver to impose the most severe sanctions possible under the NBA bylaws. We may not have the power to force Mr. Sterling to sell his team, but make no mistake, we believe that Mr. Sterling should no longer have the privilege of being an owner of an NBA team. After all, how can we expect any player (the majority of whom are African-American) to want to work for him?

The most telling revelation and possibly the strongest force that pushed Silver's hand was the announcement from the NBPA that players were prepared to boycott playoff games if the league failed to meet their demands, SI.com reports.

NBPA Vice President Roger Mason Jr. said that while players are pleased with the sanctions imposed on Sterling, they would still like a "a timetable from owners" on when the vote to decide whether Sterling loses ownership of the team will take place, SI.com reports.

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