SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz CEO Greg Miller joined a chorus of NBA owners, executives, coaches and players in praising the action of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who banned L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league “for life” and fined him $2.5 million.
“On behalf of the Miller family, we support the decisive action by Commissioner Silver and the NBA to reaffirm that there is no place for racism and hatred in our league,’’ Miller said in a statement released by the Jazz Tuesday afternoon.
Miller went on to say, “The Jazz organization and all the teams in the NBA should act as national leaders in promoting inclusiveness and diversity. We have a responsibility in our communities to fight against discrimination and ignorance and showcase sports as an example of respect and tolerance. While this situation has been inexcusable, I hope it serves the greater purpose of reinforcing our vigilance against this type of behavior.”
Silver was praised by many for his strong stand concerning Sterling's comments, which he called “deeply offensive and harmful.’’ While Silver was in position to ban Sterling from NBA games and activities, he doesn’t have the power to take away his ownership of the Clippers. That must be done by a vote of the NBA Board of Governors with 22 of the 30 owners in support.
While Miller didn’t specifically address that issue, Silver, when asked about it at the press conference said, “I fully expect to get the support I need from other NBA owners to remove him.’’
Before Tuesday’s press conference, more than half of the NBA owners had made statements concerning Sterling’s alleged comments.
A couple, Charlotte owner Michael Jordan and Houston owner Leslie Alexander, said Sterling shouldn’t be allowed to own the team. Others, such as Dallas owner Mark Cuban urged some action by the league, while most expressed confidence in Silver.
Some of the strongest reaction came from Jordan.
“I look at this from two perspectives — as a current owner and as a former player,’’ he said. “As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA — or anywhere else — for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport.’’
Chicago Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf became the first owner to publicly state that he plans to vote in favor of Sterling's dismissal, saying, "The commissioner was correct to ban Mr. Sterling from all official NBA business, to levy the stiffest allowable fine, and we will support his recommendation to press for Mr. Sterling to relinquish his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise."
Former Utah Jazz player Thurl Bailey, who now works as a broadcaster for the Jazz, told CNN Tuesday prior to the press conference that it would be “inadequate” to merely suspend Sterling and saying that he felt the audio tape of Sterling was legitimate.
Later Tuesday afternoon, Bailey talked on ESPN 700 radio in Salt Lake about the situation.
“Today was historic,’’ he said. “When you talk about NBA basketball, it is the epitome of a sport that has gone global and is about accepting diversity. A lot of people, not just in the basketball world, were really looking for some swift action to be taken.’’
Bailey also said he hopes something good can come out of the unfortunate comments made by Sterling.
“There are a lot of things we can learn and we need to sit our kids down and talk about what this means,'' he said. "Not just on the scale of NBA basketball, but in general of what people are thinking and saying and how they treat other people.''