With the grace and gravitas that have defined his actions in trying times, Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers met with the media on Tuesday evening to discuss NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's decision to issue a lifetime ban to Donald Sterling.
"The last three or four days have been very difficult for everybody involved," Rivers told reporters at Staples Center. "No matter what the race is, it's been difficult. I thought Adam Silver today was fantastic. Personally, I thought he made a decision that really was the right one, that had to be made. I don't think this is something we rejoice in or anything like that. I told the players about the decision and I think they were just happy it was a resolution."
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Silver announced earlier on Tuesday during a press conference in New York that Sterling would receive the historic suspension as well as a $2.5 million fine after recordings of him making racist remarks were made public. The NBA Commissioner also made it clear that he will push for Sterling to be forced to sell the team. In order to accomplish that goal, Silver will need the votes of three-fourths of the remaining 29 team owners.
"I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations and caused current and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league," Silver said.
Just hours after Silver's dramatic press conference, Rivers delivered a poignant statement of his own and then took several questions from reporters. He spoke about Sterling's racist comments, the punishment announced by Silver, the reactions of his players to both as well as the difficulties of navigating the past several days.
"You always have to move forward," Rivers told reporters. "And I've said this before, obviously I've dealt with issues before, you learn over and over that when something like this happens with the burden of racism, it always falls on the person who has been offended to respond. I've always thought that was interesting. I felt the pressure on my players; everybody was waiting for them to give a response. I kept thinking, 'They didn't do anything, yet they have to respond.' So Adam [Silver] responded. I thought that was the sigh of relief we needed. Is this over? No, it's not over. But it's the start of a healing process that we need."