NEW YORK — Adam Silver still gets choked up thinking about Kevin Durant’s emotional speech at his MVP press conference.
And when the NBA commissioner contrasts Durant’s address with Donald Sterling’s racist remarks, he believes the league is right in trying to force Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I think Kevin Durant as our Most Valuable Player embodies what this league is all about, and frankly Mr. Sterling doesn’t,” Silver said Tuesday before the draft lottery.
The NBA charged Sterling on Monday with damaging the league and its marketing partners, and is planning a June 3 hearing after which owners could vote to force him to sell the franchise he has owned since 1981.
Silver already banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million, but wants owners to force the sale, even though he realizes there may be obstacles.
“This is an unprecedented proceeding. Will there be bumps in the road? Presumably yes,” Silver said. “Mr. Sterling, on one hand, at least in his CNN interview, indicated a willingness to accept the judgment of his owner partners. His lawyers are saying otherwise, so we’ll see.
“But this will all get worked out. I know we’re pursuing the right course here and doing the right thing.”
Silver said Sterling’s remarks, which were recorded and surfaced on TMZ’s website late last month early in playoffs, caused anger and sadness in a league in which most players are black.
Silver acted quickly with his punishment of Sterling and owners have followed, the 10-member advisory/finance committee meeting weekly since.
Sterling has until next Tuesday to respond and can appear at the hearing in New York front of owners. It will take three-quarters of them to terminate Sterling’s ownership, and the league says also that of his estranged wife, Shelly.
Donald Sterling’s attorney asked for a three-month delay, which the league rejected. Shelly Sterling’s lawyer has said she is entitled to keep her 50 percent of the franchise even if her husband has to surrender his, so one or more legal fights could be necessary.
Silver said he would prefer if Donald Sterling chose to sell the team on his own, but the process to take it is already well underway.
“At least within the boundaries of my authority, I feel an obligation to protect the people who are within this league, and so that’s my reaction,” Silver said.