The current stars of the NBA are lining up to denounce Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling over his racial remarks which included, among other things, the assertion that Magic Johnson and other black people aren’t welcome at Clippers games. “I couldn’t play for him,” Kobe Bryant stated on Twitter this evening. Bryant has spent his entire career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers who share the same home arena, and who briefly flirted with joining the Clippers when he was a free agent several years ago. And LeBron James, who will be a potential free agent himself at the end of this season, told a group of NBA reporters this evening that there is “no room” for Sterling in the league.
Reaction from former players, who have nothing to lose in terms of their career, came swiftly as expected. Magic Johnson himself responded by tweeting that he won’t be attending any further Clippers games while Sterling is the owner. Johnson’s former teammate James Worthy stated that he would have trouble playing for Sterling’s team. But the response on the part of current players suggests that the NBA will have to take swift and decisive action against Sterling – and that the Clippers could struggle as a franchise in the mean time.
If the consensus among current NBA players regarding Sterling’s comments is as overtly negative as the stances taken by James and Bryant, the Clippers could struggle to sign free agents this offseason or even retain their own free agents. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers stated in a television interview that his team has decided to participate in its playoff game tomorrow and will not attempt to boycott the game, but the other shoe has yet to drop when it comes to the responses by Clippers players toward their own owner.
But if the NBA’s biggest stars in LeBron and Kobe are so offended by Sterling’s remarks that they’re unafraid to speak out against one of the owners in such a fashion, the league may have a sufficiently profound problem on its hands such that it may have no choice but to effectively force Sterling out of his ownership position.