SAN ANTONIO — While the Donald Sterling issue remains a top priority for the NBA even during the Finals, commissioner Adam Silver appears confident the deposed Clippers owner will become officially disassociated with the league in the coming weeks.
Silver spoke with the media before Sunday night’s Game 2 between the Spurs and the Heat, addressing the pending sale of the Clippers to billionaire Steve Ballmer, as well as the AT&T Center’s faulty air conditioning system, which was a major story line in San Antonio’s Game 1 win.
Silver said that Sterling still has a lawsuit pending against Silver and the NBA; Sterling had previously indicated he would drop all lawsuits against the league to facilitate the sale.
Shelly Sterling, Donald’s estranged wife, apparently has promised to indemnify the NBA with regard to any lawsuits by her husband.
“We’ve been told by Shelly Sterling’s lawyers that she and Donald plan to work out their remaining dispute, but that hasn’t happened yet,” Silver said. “We’re almost there. There is this last piece, and that is the lawsuit Donald brought against the league and me personally. I have absolute confidence it will be resolved as part of the sale agreement with Shelly Sterling.”
Silver said he spoke with Donald Sterling after he banned him for life from the NBA and imposed a $2.5 million fine following Sterling’s racist comments.
“While I understand he is frustrated, I think it’s over,” Silver said. “It’s just a matter of time now and then we’ll move on to better topics and back to the Finals.
“There is absolutely no possibility that the lifetime ban will be rescinded or that the fine will be changed in any way.”
Silver also spoke about the air conditioning malfunction, which was rectified in time for Game 2, which was played at near 70 degrees. He admitted the situation was not handled properly.
“I would say that it’s certainly not one of my prouder moments in my short tenure as commissioner so far, but it’s the nature of this game. There always are going to be human and mechanical errors, and it’s unfortunate,” he said. “In hindsight, it wasn’t handled perfectly, but they’d never been confronted with that issue before. We in the league office — and not just me as commissioner, but I’ve been with the league office for more than 22 years now — I’d never dealt with a situation like that before. They were consulting with us throughout.”
LeBron James understood the criticism he received following his Game 1 exit because of cramps, and he also understands his place in the league.
“I don’t think it, I know [I’m the biggest target],” he said. “I just am. I don’t know. Because I’ve been in front of the camera and the camera has been in front of me since I was 15 years old. You guys have seen everything from me, from being an adolescent kid just playing the game of basketball because he loves it as a hobby, to now playing as a professional, to succeeding, going to the top, to falling off the mountain, to going up to the top again. You guys have seen everything that my life has had to offer since I was a 15-year-old kid.
“So, I think that has a lot to do with it. Half of my life I’ve been in front of this, so it makes me an easy target.”
Overshadowed by James’s cramps and the lack of air conditioning was a stellar Game 1 performance from Ray Allen, who scored 16 points to go with a playoff-career-high five steals. He also surprised his teammates with an emphatic dunk in the third quarter that brought back memories of his prime. Allen, who turns 39 next month and will be a free agent this summer, will likely draw interest from multiple clubs.
“I feel great, probably the best I have felt in a while,” he said. “After the game I was exhausted, which was expected. You know, it’s just that feeling when you finish the game, you feel like you can play another one. My body was so hyped up at that time. It was fun. It’s a special time of the year. Your body . . . you don’t require a lot of motivation and inspiration to go out there. You see what you’re playing for, it’s a heightened time of year for all of us. So, there is no letdown mentally or physically. ”
Allen, who had 9 points in Sunday night’s victory, said his offseason regimen, which does not include extensive basketball, has been critical to his longevity.
“I don’t play a lot [in the offseason] because there is so much pounding,” he said. “Probably over the last eight or nine years I’ve gravitated toward some more conditioning, you know, from running on the street and cycling. I’ve been cycling now for 14 years maybe. So, when I get an opportunity, I always try to ride as much as I can, find my paths in the summertime. Then I gravitate, as the season draws to a close, the summer season I end up running a lot more just to get that pounding on my feet that I need, but it doesn’t take a whole lot. But the important thing is not to get out of shape.
“More importantly learn to eat right, because that’s half the battle. That’s where you keep yourself in great shape, and then you get in the gym and sculpt.”Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.