No, seriously, this is not a drill. You are not reading The Onion. This is a real possibility…says Roger Mason Jr.
Making an appearance on Jim Rome on Showtime, Mason, the vice president of the NBA players association, told Jim Rome that James would lead a boycott if Sterling gets to keep the Clippers. From Eye on Basketball’s James Herbert:
“If it’s not handled by… the start of next season, I don’t see how we’re playing basketball,” Mason said. “I was just in the locker room with LeBron… At the end of the day, you know we have leaders. We have player reps, we’ve got executive committee members… Leaders of the teams, they’re all saying the same thing, ‘If this man is still in place, we ain’t playing’.”
Rome followed up: “So your guy LeBron, you think he would not play if Sterling were still in there when the [next] season started?”
“I was just in the locker room three or four days ago. LeBron and I talked about it,” Mason said. “He ain’t playing if Sterling is still an owner.”
If this is a joke, it’s a sick, twisted, totally cruel joke. The NBA without LeBron would be, like, the worst thing ever. Worse than sitting through any Megan Fox movie that isn’t Transformers. Worse than having a job where all you do is taste-test fertilizer-based coffee grounds.
Worse than your jump shot would look after receiving hours-long, year-round lessons from Josh Childress.
In other words, it would suck. It also doesn’t seem possible. The idea that James would put millions upon millions upon millions of dollars in endorsements and salary on the line feels absurd. Yet it’s so LeBron.
King James doesn’t need the cash. Let’s get that out of the way right now. He’s slated to earn just under $20.6 million next season if he remains with the Miami Heat, and he could do without it if he really wants to. Endorsements are a different story, but are Nike or McDonald’s or Sprite about to drop one of their biggest names for combating racism? No, I don’t think they are.
Of course, we won’t know anything unless that moment actually arrives. This could be a pressure ploy, an attempt by the players to ensure the NBA expedites Sterling’s exit. The chances of the message being received—if that’s what this is—are good.
Commissioner Adam Silver has been ruthless in his approach to Sterling, and rightfully so. While speaking with Anderson Cooper of CNN, Sterling came off as a self-righteous idiot. Clearly, he’s not all there. Something is wrong with him, be it mentally, physically or both. But sympathy is limited, if it even exists at all. What he was caught on tape saying remains reprehensible and wholly disgusting. No physical or mental impediment is going to change that.
Nor will anything change Sterling. He’s going to fight this. His estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, will fight to keep her stake in the team. And they will both fail. Believe that. How long will it take them to fail? That’s the real question.
Litigation could last months—years, even. Players have already made it clear the lifetime ban isn’t enough. Sterling actually needs to be removed in every sense of the word. He can have no association with the Clippers. The fact that his name is still attached to the franchise is a very real problem.
Over the summer, it’s going to become an even bigger issue. If the NBA cannot send him packing in time for next season, there’s no telling what happens with this boycott. Beyond a refusal to play, Clippers coach Doc Rivers could also quit. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, among others, could try to force trades. The entire Clippers franchise could come undone because of one man’s ignorance and stupidity and vile opinions.
All anyone can do now, for the most part, is wait. The NBA understands the stakes. Silver and crew will do everything humanly possible to ensure this entire situation is cleaned up before the start of next season. If it’s not, LeBron will be faced with a decision—one that could alter the course of next year and NBA history in general if he stays true to his reported word.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com.