NBA Players Association Wants Say in Donald Sterling's Punishment

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2014

OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 27: Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson during a game against the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena on April 27, 2014 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Donald Sterling's racially charged tirade sparked plenty of reaction from the NBA's players, who have now made it clear they want a say in how he's punished.

TMZ first released an audiotape of the Los Angeles Clippers owner having an obscene conversation with girlfriend V. Stiviano. Deadspin later released a second, extended version of the alleged discussion. 

In response to the ongoing saga, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who is now the NBA Players Association's point man for the Sterling proceedings, spoke with reporters at halftime of Game 3 between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors.

During his abbreviated press conference, Johnson addressed a number of concerns. Per's Nate Duncan, he stressed the importance of players being involved in the disciplinary process:

As part of his punishment, the players apparently want to ensure Sterling remains far, far away from his team for the rest of this season:

Beyond this one incident, the players also want to know why Sterling hasn't been reprimanded before:

This isn't the first time Sterling has been at the center of such controversy. Not even close.

In 2006, he was sued by the Department of Justice for "housing discrimination," per The Associated Press (via ESPN). Roughly three years later, Sterling paid a record $2.725 million to settle the suit, according to the Los Angeles Times' Scott Glover

Not long after that, former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor filed a wrongful termination suit against Sterling "on the basis of age and race," per the Los Angeles Times' Nathan Fenno.

Past transgressions in mind, Johnson wants to know how drastic the repercussions for Sterling's comments will be:

The extent of Sterling's punishment remains unclear. Commissioner Adam Silver hasn't even committed to giving him one until all facts are known.

"All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy," Silver said Saturday, via ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "The core of the investigation is understanding whether the tape is authentic, interviewing Mr. Sterling and interviewing the woman as well and understanding the context in which it was recorded."

Despite the uncertainty of this situation, Johnson apparently expects a quick verdict to be rendered, according to Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears:

How quick?

Really quick:

To say players are outraged over recent events would be a gross understatement. Since the audiotape was released, more than a few players have stepped forward to express their frustrations.

"But there's no room for Donald Sterling in our league," Miami Heat superstar LeBron James said, per Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick. "There's no room for him."

Most of those who have come forward with their opinions share James' feelings. Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, who Sterling mentioned by name during his imbecilic diatribe, thinks he should be excommunicated from the Association entirely.

"He shouldn't own a team anymore," Johnson said Sunday, during ABC's playoff pregame show, via Sports Illustrated.

Mark J. Terrill

Given the magnitude of Sterling's latest display of intolerance, there's really no question that the players should have some sort of say in what happens moving forward. This is something that didn't impact just the Clippers but the entire NBA. And it could not have happened at a more inopportune time. 

The playoffs are in full swing. Now, when the Clippers and the rest of the NBA's teams should be focusing on the importance of the games at hand, they're subject to Sterling's prejudicial invective and all the questions and distractions that come with it.

Although the postseason has been exciting enough early on to power through the dense, dark cloud Sterling has cast over the league, this cannot be swept under the rug. If the audiotape is validated, an example must be made of Sterling, who is a repeat offender of this type of behavior.

Whatever punishment is handed down to him must fit the injustice. His comments were vile and unacceptable, and while due process is necessary, they must inevitably be treated as such.

And since the players were the subject of the matter in question, allowing them to impact the post-investigation proceedings isn't unreasonable.

At this point, involving them seems like one of the few rights that can come out of this wrong-filled situation.