Don't worry, NBA fans.
The league will continue running in 2014-15, and the players will continue earning their contracts even if a member of the Sterling family is in charge of the Los Angeles Clippers. As National Basketball Players Association representative James Jones explained to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, there will be no boycotts, regardless of the situation with the Clippers organization:
There is no boycott. There isn’t a lot of talk about a boycott. The union wanted to see the league step up and did what they did what we felt was appropriate - which was to remove Donald Sterling. They did that. It’s a process and we know it’s going to take time. But there is total trust between the union and the league and commissioner and the owners, knowing that eventually it will all play out the way we agreed - which is Donald Sterling no longer being the owner of an NBA team. We’re all on the same page. The Donald Sterling situation is a league situation. It’s not basketball.
Of course, this normally wouldn't be news.
After all, boycotts are extreme measures, and there's plenty of time remaining before such drastic actions would actually occur. There's an entire offseason for everyone to come to terms and resolve the Sterling mess in more realistic manners.
However, NBPA vice president Roger Mason Jr. stirred the pot when he mentioned a boycott and LeBron James during a Jim Rome on Showtime interview:
Well, those are definitely conflicting messages.
Technically, Mason has the higher rank within the player's association. But Jones delivered his quote more recently.
So...which do we believe?
Ideally, we never have to pick, though Mason did clarify/apologize later:
Jim asked me about guys playing next season if Sterling remained an owner. I mentioned I spoke to LBJ as I speak to many players.— Roger Mason Jr (@MoneyMase) May 14, 2014
My bad if I was not clear.LBJ never said anything about boycotting.He's a friend and I would never want to imply something he didn't say— Roger Mason Jr (@MoneyMase) May 14, 2014
LeBron has since given his own statement, per CNN's Rachel Nichols:
On Sterling/possible boycott, LeBron tells me "The direction Adam is going, there shouldn't be a need for (cont) http://t.co/MZNJVJjKbF— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 14, 2014
Here's the full text:
The direction Adam [Silver] is going, there shouldn't be a need for it [a boycott]. We trust those guys and we know that they're going to take care of what needs to be done for our league, and we understand that it's not going to be tomorrow. The system will not work tomorrow, but the direction they're going – we're all for it.
Adam Silver, the first-year NBA commissioner, presumably still plans on following through with his lifetime ban of Donald Sterling, one that also involves the remaining 29 owners voting him out of their ultra-exclusive fraternity. Though the time frame is unknown and legal action—both from Donald and Shelly Sterling—remains likely, there's been no indication that the league is willing to renege on its harsh—but justified—sanctions.
As Ethan Skolnick noted for Bleacher Report, there's no reason to doubt LeBron's convictions, given his increasing social awareness and willingness to put himself out there for causes he believes in.
"James has grown into a person who wants to lead others," Skolnick wrote. "If the NBA doesn't find a way to shrink the Sterlings' presence down to zero, we may learn how much he's willing to sacrifice for his ideals."
And LeBron's obviously not the only one. He'd be the poster boy of a league-wide boycott, but "league-wide" indicates that all players would be involved, not just the four-time MVP who leads the Miami Heat.
Whether Mason was correct about LeBron's feelings at the time or whether Jones is correct with his recent declaration that no boycott is in the works, let's just hope that we never have to find out.
The NBA can remove all temptations by following through on its promise, after all.