While the NBA Players Association may have been pleased with the actions taken by the league against Clippers owner Donald Sterling, one particular player within the union isn't yet satisfied. The lifetime ban will remove Sterling from any team and league activities, though for the moment he remains the formal owner of the Clippers franchise. Cavs guard Jarrett Jack sees no reason for NBA players to participate in games so long as that remains the case.
From Jack's appearance on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco (via Ball Don't Lie):
"The thing I would propose is that nobody plays another game for the Clippers as long as that man is in control period point blank. And we don't play another game until that man is removed. It's not a Clipper issue, it's a league issue and we should all take a stance on it."
Members of the Clippers and Warriors had reportedly agreed to boycott their game on Tuesday had Sterling not been given appropriate punishment. Jack's proposal, though, would call for a protest to span the entire league and to last well beyond a single game.
That would be quite the principled stand, though as Kelly Dwyer noted at Ball Don't Lie, this may be a case where all involved are better served by taking commissioner Adam Silver's initial action on the issue as indication of his intent to follow through. Silver made clear at Tuesday's press conference that a vote to oust Sterling would be conducted as soon as such a thing was possible -- a vote in which he expected to get the requisite support from the NBA's owners. Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadivé remarked during an appearance on Good Morning America that he anticipates a unanimous vote in favor of Silver's recommendation.
On Thursday, the NBA's Advisory/Finance Committee indeed voted unanimously toward those ends, while agreeing to reconvene next week for the next step in the process. For now, that -- along with the maximum fine already levied -- is all that can realistically be done. Since Silver's press conference, Sterling has said that he has no intention to sell the team. Any official action taken from this point needs to be extraordinarily careful, given that Sterling will undoubtedly look to engage the NBA with a legal challenge upon his removal. If there is anything at all amiss in the process of his expulsion, Sterling would have a stronger legal basis from which to make that challenge. Such overstepping would then only serve to draw out the process of Sterling's exile (if not undercut the effort entirely), making it all the more important for NBA officials to conduct this entire process as close to the letter of the rule as possible.
Michael McCann laid out the importance of abiding to strict, legally defensible process in his piece on the Sterling saga for SI.com. In addition, McCann notes that the NBA can expect a legal battle of some sort no matter its specific course:
In addition to concern about proper interpretation of the relevant language, some owners may worry about the prospect that Sterling will sue. Sterling, an attorney, is regarded as one of the most litigious owners in professional sports. If there is one owner who would sue over expulsion, it's probably him. Sterling could seek a court injunction preventing the NBA from expelling him. Such a move would likely happen immediately after he is voted out. He could also file a lawsuit raising breach of contract and antitrust claims.McCann goes on to explain the specifics behind both of those claims, though the larger point is this: No matter what the league does to facilitate Sterling's removal in the near future, these are only the initial stages of a much longer process. If the NBA's players would like to protest until that process is complete, that's their business. In doing so, however, the players would be hanging their livelihood and the league's momentum on the glacial pace of the court system and Sterling's own stubbornness. Neither should be underestimated.