Shortly before NBA commissioner Adam Silver delivered a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine — the maximum allowable under the NBA constitution — to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, DeMar DeRozan spoke to Toronto media about the situation.
A Los Angeles native, DeRozan told media on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn that he didn’t think he would ever be able to play for Sterling after hearing the comments attributed to him in a recording sent to TMZ Sports.
On Tuesday, having had time to mull over the situation, DeRozan’s stance was much stronger. He did not think a fine or suspension would be enough.
“All the players and everybody going through it now, they wouldn’t feel comfortable playing under somebody like that or working under somebody like that,” DeRozan said. “If it’s just a suspension or he’s still going to be there in the long run, it’s just not healthy.”
In addition to the lifetime ban and fine, Silver said he would be urging the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force the sale of the team. He also said he was confident that he would get the three-quarters vote needed from the league’s other NBA owners.
DeRozan: “We’re United.”
Shortly after Silver’s announcement, responses from around the league came flooding in. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment issued a release in support of Silver’s decision.
“As a proud member of the National Basketball Association, we stand strongly in our belief that the comments attributed to Mr. Sterling have no place in our society or sport,” MLSE said in the statement. “Our organization will always work to contribute to a culture of diversity and acceptance in this league and fully support the actions taken today. We thank Commissioner Adam Silver, and all of the NBA players, for their leadership on this important issue.”
As of 6:30 p.m. ET, Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie published a post showing statements or releases from all 29 teams around the league in support of Silver’s decision.
Leading up to Tuesday’s ruling, everyone from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Barack Obama had spoken out against Sterling. With various teams showing their support for Clippers players and opposition to Sterling by wearing black socks or shooting shirts turned inside-out, the Raptors said they would be doing something to show they are united with their peers in Los Angeles.
“We feel like we’re in the same situation with them,” DeRozan said. “We all play this game. We’re all going to stick together through any situation.
“That’s what it’s about,” DeRozan said. “We’re united. Especially as people, even outside of basketball. We’re united. You gotta respect that. That’s the great thing about us. Like I said, society is not in that place anymore. You see guys of all different cultures, different parts of the country, different parts of the world all coming together as one. Comments like that are uncalled for.”
Point guard Kyle Lowry nodded toward the Miami Heat’s silent protest of turning their shooting shirts inside out and dropping their warm-ups at centre court during Monday’s game against the Charlotte Bobcats as an indicator of the league’s players coming together as one.
“It’s just a brotherhood,” Lowry said. “The NBA is a brotherhood. It’s a fraternity and we all support each other, we support everything. If something happens to one or two individuals, we’re all going to support each other and that’s what makes the NBA and professional sports so special because there’s not many of us. At the end of the day, on the floor we’re enemies but off the floor we’re brothers.”