Digest: NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Clippers, AC issues, age limit and more
SAN ANTONIO -- NBA commissioner Adam Silver's annual Finals media address was dominated by two controversies: the ongoing saga surrounding disgraced Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and the air conditioning malfunction during San Antonio's Game 1 victory over Miami on Thursday.
Speaking from a podium at the AT&T Center, which was once again properly climate controlled Sunday, Silver discussed both subjects, as well as the NBA's plans for changing the current one-and-done rule, and a few other hot-button topics.
Here are the highlights from Silver's press conference, which lasted roughly 30 minutes.
On handling of Sterling: 'Maybe we could have done more'
The headline-grabbing update on the Sterling affair came when Silver acknowledged, for the first time, that the NBA could potentially have done more to deal with Sterling's non-NBA transgressions, which went on for years before the tape of him making racist remarks came to light.
"I don't have any specific regrets," Silver said, about the league's handling of Sterling's previous legal issues and reports of his inappropriate behavior as owner of the Clippers. "We're not the government. He was investigated by the Department of Housing, the Department of Justice. There were individual lawsuits settled out.
"I was at the league during the time and when we monitored those events, it felt at that time that we were doing the appropriate thing. It's a fair point that in hindsight possibly we should have done more. Certainly, if I had to do it again, maybe we would have done more."
Aside from that admission, Silver repeated multiple times that a lawsuit filed by Donald Sterling against the NBA an Silver stands as a roadblock that must be overcome for the sale of the Clippers by Shelly Sterling, Donald's wife, to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer can be officially completed. Silver said that Shelly Sterling informed him she has a "high degree of confidence" that Donald Sterling's lawsuit against the league will be resolved.
Silver made it clear that he would not consider lifting Donald Sterling's lifetime ban or reducing the $2.5 million fine he levied against Sterling.
"There is absolutely no possibility that the lifetime ban will be rescinded or that the fine will be changed in any way," Silver said.
Additionally, he revealed that he spoke with a "distraught" Sterling shortly after levying the lifetime ban, noting that Sterling "was not remorseful at that time."
As for Shelly Sterling, Silver said that she will be allowed to attend Clippers games after the $2 billion sale to Ballmer goes official.
"Other than that, she won't have any role with the Clippers going forward," Silver said, noting that Shelly Sterling's agreement to indemnify the league from future legal action could help resolve Donald Sterling's lawsuit.
The NBA's Board of Governors is set to meet in mid-July. A vote on the sale of the Clippers is expected to occur at that meeting, but it could happen more quickly, depending on the completion of the sale process and the resolution of Donald Sterling's lawsuit.
A $2 billion price tag represents a huge win for Silver, as that figure is almost four times the record sale price of an NBA team.
"The market is what it is," Silver said. "I don't think [$2 billion] is over-inflated in any way. There were several other bidders in addition to Steve Ballmer ... and many came fairly close to the price he ultimately paid. I have confidence that's what the market is."
On AT&T Center's AC issues: 'Not one of my prouder moments'
Silver did not have many additional details to add regarding the embarrassing AC failure during Game 1.
The good news: the AC was restored for Game 2 and the show went on without a hitch.
"I'm glad that this isn't single elimination, it's the best of seven" Silver said. "It's too early to say how this Finals will be remembered. My sense is, having been involved with the league for a long time, that there will be all kinds of great moments that will happen."
Silver said that the NBA first became aware of the AC problems shortly after the AC failed at 7:55 Central Time, which was just minutes before the tip off. Multiple efforts to reset a circuit breaker proved unsuccessful and the NBA was informed during the second quarter that the AC wouldn't be able to be fixed that night. No announcement of an AC failure was made until the break between the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth.
"It's certainly not one of my prouder moments in my short tenure as commissioner," Silver admitted. "It's the nature of the game. There are always going to be human and mechanical errors, and it's unfortunate. In hindsight, it wasn't handled perfectly. ... I've been with the league office for 22 years now, and I'd never dealt with a situation like that before."
Reiterating statements made by NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn on Thursday, Silver said that there was "never a point where we were considering postponing or canceling the game."
On NBA's age limit: 'I sense there is a little bit of movement'
Silver has said previously that he wants the NBA to adopt a draft system that requires NCAA players to spend two years in college before they can enter the NBA. Right now, NCAA players are eligible to enter the draft after their freshman season, and a number of this year's top prospects, including Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, are all one-and-done players.
"I sense there is a little bit of movement," Silver said, when asked if his proposal for switching the system is picking up steam. "[National Basketball Players Association acting executive director] Ron Klempner said at a sports forum recently that it was something that the union was willing to discuss. In individual, one-on-one conversations I've had with players as I travel around the league, my sense is that they're willing to discuss it as well."
That said, Silver noted that further, formal discussion of the topic requires the NBPA to appoint a new, full-time executive director. The NBPA has been without an executive director since ousting Billy Hunter in Feb. 2013.
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