Could The Entire Clippers Team, Led By Doc Rivers, Quit If Donald Sterling Remains The Owner?

  • Eric Goldschein

Because Donald Sterling refuses to release the Clippers franchise from his gnarled, racist fingers, the legal battle to remove him and complete the team’s sale to Steve Ballmer still rages. In court today, Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons said that team president and coach Doc Rivers has told him he would quit if Sterling was still with the franchise by the start of next season.


Dick Parsons said he’s talked to Rivers, several players and key sponsors who are troubled by Sterling’s continued ownership of the franchise, which is being adjudicated in a California probate court…

“If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster,” Parsons said. “Doc is the father figure of the team. Chris (Paul) is the on court captain of the team. But Doc is really the guy who leads the effort. He’s the coach, the grown-up, he’s a man of character and ability — not just in a basketball sense, but in the ability to connect with people and gain their trust.

“The team believes in him and admires and loves him. If he were to bail, with all the other circumstances, it would accelerate the death spiral.”

Rivers expressed his issues with working for Sterling when the (latest) scandal first broke, so this isn’t a surprise. And Rivers leaving the franchise would be a devastating blow to a team that is just starting to assume the role of “actual competent and competitive basketball team” after years of being terrible. But could it be even worse?

“If none of your sponsors want to sponsor you, your coach doesn’t want to coach you, and players don’t want to play for you, what do you have?” Parsons said.

We know that the Clippers and Warriors were hours away from boycotting a huge playoff game last season, saved only by the commissioner’s decision to give Sterling a lifetime ban. If Rivers walks away from his contract with the team, whose to say guys like Paul, Blake Griffin and every other player wouldn’t feel the impetus to follow suit? What if the Clippers are simply incapable of fielding a basketball team this fall?

In all likelihood, it won’t come to that. Shelly Sterling will probably win this case against Donald, and if not, there’s reason to believe the NBA will simply seize the team and sell it anyway. And once that happens, Ballmer needs to take this team to Seattle, if only to remove the stink this fucked up case has left on the franchise.

Photo via Getty