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The NBA Players Association wants Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling banned from all playoff games this season and for the league to levy the maximum punishment possible against him in response to racist comments believed to be made by the 80-year-old in an audio recording that surfaced on Friday.
Sacramento mayor and players association chairman Kevin Johnson outlined what the players want the league to focus on in comments during halftime of Sunday’s playoff game between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors. He also appeared on all three of the broadcast morning shows on Monday — Today, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning — where he repeated many of the same comments without speculating about future punishments.
Speaking on Sunday, Johnson said the players “are outraged by what took place.” But he repeated NBA commissioner Adam Silver‘s call for due process, saying they’re being careful not to rush to judgment.
“The players wanted to ensure that Mr. Sterling does not attend any games for the Clippers or any other team for the duration of the playoffs,” Johnson said, according to ESPN. “We’re confident that the commissioner understood that this is an enormous distraction for everyone, and we want the focus to really be on the games and what’s taking place on the court, and he certainly understood that.”
The players also want to understand the types of punishments that the league can levy against Sterling. “They want the maximum of what the constitution and bylaws will allow, and we’re trying to figure out what that is. ” said Johnson. “They want the maximum. They want a decision to be made quickly and decisively.”
Johnson added that he hoped the league would make a decision about Sterling before Game 5 of the Clippers-Warriors series, which is set for Tuesday night in Los Angeles. Johnson said the he expressed the players’ concerns to Silver on Sunday before Game 4.
Johnson also said the league should investigate why Sterling never faced sanctions for prior accusations of racism. “We believe this is a defining moment for the league,” Johnson said. “It’s defining moment for the commissioner and a defining moment for all the players in this league.”
He added: “There is absolutely no place in the NBA family for ignorance, intolerance, reprehensible comments that are unacceptable and not fitting for what this league is all about.”
Speaking on CBS This Morning Monday, Johnson added that as part of the due process, the players want to “authenticate the audio” believed to be of Sterling telling his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, he doesn’t want her to bring black people to games. Johnson said that the commissioner needed to take into account how Sterling’s comments would affect the willingness of players to play for him.
“I will tell you this: Going forward there will be no player in the current or in the future soon-to-be that will make a decision on whether or not they want to play for the L.A. Clippers without knowing who this owner is,” he said. “And I think that’s very significant, and this is where Commissioner Silver is going to have to weigh in, in my opinion, forcefully and quickly.”
Johnson added that the players do not feel that Sterling represents the NBA family.
On NBC’s Today, Johnson said that he felt owners should be held to the same standards as players.
“We believe as players that there should be a two-way accountability. Players want to be held accountable to a high standard of conduct; certainly owners need to be held to a high standard of conduct,” Johnson said.
He added that he’s confident the NBA commissioner will act in the best interest of the players, owners and league.
Johnson also made an appearance on Good Morning America.
Watch video of some of Johnson’s halftime remarks below.
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