SAN ANTONIO – Donald Sterling’s official reign over the Los Angeles Clippers is almost finished, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Sunday during his first NBA Finals address.
Silver said he expects the NBA Board of Governors to vote in Steve Ballmer as the new owner of the Clippers in mid-July or earlier after recently agreeing to a $2 billion purchase of the franchise. On April 29, Silver banned Sterling for life from the NBA, fined him $2.5 million and said the NBA would force a sale of the Clippers after Sterling made derogatory comments about African-Americans. Silver said the holdup is a pending lawsuit Sterling has against the NBA and himself.
“We’re almost there,” Silver said.
“I have absolute confidence it will be resolved because of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling. She agreed to indemnify the [NBA] against a lawsuit by her husband.
“So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that. While I understand he is frustrated, I think it’s over. I think it’s just a matter of time now and then we will move on to better topics and back to the Finals.”
The commissioner also asserted that Shelly Sterling will still be able to attend Clippers games, but will have no other role with the franchise, and there is “absolutely no possibility” that the NBA will rescind its lifetime ban or fine on Donald Sterling.
In another big topic, Silver said the NBA never considered cancelling or postponing Game 1 of the NBA Finals after the temperatures rose to around 90 degrees after the air conditioning malfunctioned at the AT&T Center on Thursday.
Silver said the NBA learned shortly after the Finals opener began that there was an electrical problem. The NBA was informed just before halftime that the problem couldn’t be fixed that evening.
“I would say it’s certainly not one of my prouder moments in my short tenure as commissioner so far, but it’s the nature of the game,” Silver said. “There are going to be human and mechanical errors and that is unfortunate.”
Silver’s Finals address also covered:
• The NBA’s competition committee, which will take a look at playoff seeding affecting the draft lottery and possible play-in tournaments for the playoffs. Silver doesn’t expect any major changes next season.
• A “little bit of movement” in changing the one-and-done rule for NBA draft entrants to a minimum two years in college.
“The ongoing issue is that until we have a new executive director of the union, we’re not going to sit down and have any real serious discussion on the topic,” Silver said.
• The NBA’s next television contract, which will be discussed in meetings in Miami this week.
“It’s still my hope that we extend early before we get to the market, but we’ll see,” Silver said.
• Talks of NBA players being tested for HGH have been slowed by the lack of a union executive director and that most of the NBA’s lawyers are also busy working for the NFL on their collective bargaining issues.