If Silver's Ruling Disappointed Players, Warriors Had Bold Protest Planned

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistApril 29, 2014

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In an NBA day filled with momentous decisions and dramatic gestures, the Golden State Warriors almost made one of the biggest.

According to Marcus Thompson of the San Jose Mercury News, the Dubs had a protest planned ahead of their Game 5 matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers that they would have carried out had NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's punishment of Donald Sterling not been severe enough:

The Warriors were going to go through pre-game warm-ups and take part in the national anthem and starting line-up introductions. They were going to take the floor for the jump ball, dapping up the Clippers players as is customary before games.

Then once the ball was in the air, they were just going to walk off. All 15 of them.

Silver's decision to drop the hammer on Sterling—a lifetime ban, a $2.5 million fine and a strong suggestion to the other 29 owners to force Sterling to sell the team—apparently satisfied the Warriors, who only revealed the plan to Thompson after they'd decided not to go through with it.

Apr 27, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates after blocking the shot of Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4, not pictured) during the fourth quarter in game four of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoff

"It would have been our only chance to make a statement in front of the biggest audience that we weren’t going to accept anything but the maximum punishment," Warriors point guard Stephen Curry told Thompson. "We would deal with the consequences later but we were not going to play."

While the gesture Golden State planned would have been immensely powerful, it's probably best for all involved that it won't be necessary. The Warriors' satisfaction with Silver's decision and their subsequent choice not to walk off the floor indicates basketball—not the alleged racism of a soon-to-be deposed owner—is ready to become a bigger part of the playoff news cycle.

It's not surprising that the Warriors would have been the team to make such an iconic stand—not just because they're playing the Clippers, but because their head coach has been particularly vocal about how Sterling's alleged comments affect everybody.

He also apparently knew of the potential walk-off.

As Turner Sports' Rachel Nichols points out on Twitter, this kind of backlash hung over the decision on how to deal with Sterling. 

Now, it's up to the Clippers players to make a statement. They'll get a chance to do that with their play on the court, play that now won't directly benefit Sterling.

The Sterling saga, unfortunately, is far from over. We're likely headed for a protracted legal battle that isn't necessarily certain to result in the Clippers franchise changing hands. In other words, we may yet have opportunities for players and coaches to voice their opinions.