The NBA released a new video spot that reaffirmed the league's commitment to unity just hours after commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday that disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling's divisive opinions about race have no place in the league.
Dubbed "We Are One," the 30-second spot premiered on Tuesday, shortly after Silver hit Sterling with a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine for a series of racist comments that were captured on an audio tape.
The video includes footage of a number of playoff teams huddling up or helping each other up off the ground with a series of quick-hitting messages flashing across the screen.
We are a Team
On a team, me becomes we
We stand together, we strive together, we win together
We are a team and this is our time
We are one
The "We Are One" slogan also appeared on the basket stanchions during the Clippers' Game 5 victory over the Warriors at Staples Center, and it was referenced by coach Doc Rivers and Chris Paul in their post-game comments on Tuesday. A number of NBA teams also used the slogan on their social media accounts and websites following Silver's banishment of Sterling.
TMZ released audio Friday of a conversation in which Sterling can be heard scolding V. Stiviano, his girlfriend, for bringing African-Americans to Clippers games and for posting photos of herself and African-Americans, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson, to her Instagram account. Silver said the NBA was able to authenticate that it was Sterling’s voice on the tape and that Sterling acknowledged that it was his voice during a league investigation.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful," Silver said at a New York City press conference. "That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic league.”
Silver also apologized on behalf of the NBA for Sterling’s comments.
“I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations and caused current and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league,” he said. “To them, and pioneers of the game like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, Sweetwater Clifton, the great Bill Russell and particularly Magic Johnson, I apologize.”
Tensions were clearly raised among players prior to Silver's verdict. In recent days, a number of teams -- including the Clippers, Heat, Rockets, and Blazers -- participated in silent protests against Sterling by wearing their warm-up shirts inside out or donning black socks.
National Basketball Players Association vice president Roger Mason Jr. said at a Tuesday press conference in Los Angeles that players across the NBA were prepared to boycott in the event that Silver's punishment of Sterling wasn't sufficiently harsh.
"We will not be discriminated against," Mason said. "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 wasn't something Adam Silver felt was necessary. I'm happy to come here today and say that as players we're very happy with the decision." Members of the Warriors revealed on Tuesday that they had planned a walkout for Game 5 against the Clippers if Silver hadn't laid the hammer down against Sterling.