At this point, it seems to be Donald Sterling against everyone else as the Los Angeles Clippers’ ownership saga continues following his racially motivated rant.
According to the latest reports from NBA.com, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is ready to force his way out of Lob City should Mr Sterling remain as the owner of the team and interim CEO Richard Parsons feels that “would be a disaster.”
"Doc is troubled by this maybe moreso than anybody else," Parsons said during the trial to determine if Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, could sell the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. "If Mr. Sterling continues as owner, he does not want to continue as coach.
Rivers has seemingly been the one keeping the order in the Clippers organization and attempting to shield players from all the drama. Also when the Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, he couldn’t corral his emotions.
With the clock winding down and the victory a certainty, Doc was extremely animated as he high-fived anyone in close proximity. That was followed by and hugs for his players as they made their way to bench with the crowd in the Staples Center going wild. Afterward, he explained the reason for his celebrations.
“I needed to exhale,” he said. It’s been a long week, but it feels like it’s been two months. It’s been hard. I just needed to be able to smile, laugh, cheer and be proud of something and I was very proud of my players. The excitement wasn’t just for me, it was for everybody. I also wanted the fans to get excited and exhale for a second.
That is the kind of character Rivers is. He cares more than just about wins and losses. He also cares about his players, the staff and the people behind them. And that is something Parsons knows and he understands how valuable the coach is in order to keep both players (and even sponsors) happy.
“He is the father figure, the one who leads,” Parsons added. He's the coach. He's the grown-up. He is able to connect with people and earn their trust. The team believes in him and loves him. If he were to leave, that is only going to accelerate the death spiral.
"If your coach leaves, if your players don't want to play with you, what do you have? If your sponsors leave and the fans leave, it's going to spiral down and down."
Sponsors have already taken measures with nearly 20 companies-such as State Farm Insurance, Kia Motors America, airline Virgin America, P. Diddy's water brand, AQUAHydrate, Red Bull and Mercedes-Benz- suspending or completely severing their ties with the Clippers. However that’s small fries considering how much of the team’s $128million annual revenue is generated thanks to players such as Chris Paul (who is black) and Blake Griffin (who has a black father).
Paul has already said how vital Rivers is to the team, having such his praise during a recent interview with ESPN.
“It (the race comments and dealing with it) was tough and I hope it’s nothing anyone else will have to endure,” he said. “But, we’re fortunate have such a great leader in Doc Rivers, who was amazing throughout the whole situation. Our team came together and we were strong.”
CP3 to Leave
So if Rivers was to go, the players (and the money they generate through fans and sponsors, alike) probably wouldn’t be too far behind – especially Paul.
The superstar point guard has been chasing a title for the best part of a decade and the closest he gotten to doing so has been losing in the Western Conference Finals. Surely losing Doc would almost definitely slam that door shut while being a Clipper. But more so than his quest for championship rings, his status as the President of the NBA Players Association would almost require him to jump ship. After all, what player wants to be represented by someone who has an “alleged” (I’m trying to be politically correct) racist owner.
And when asked whether he wants to or plans to talk to Sterling about his comments, Paul responded with a resounding, “I don’t, and I don’t plan to.”
On the upside, seems like there could be progress in the sale of the team after Sterling and Ballmer met for a “friendly conversation” a while ago.
Exactly what it has yielded is anyone’s guess but at least its progress. Still, this tale looks like is going to get a lot messier before it gets better.