BOSTON (CBS) — When Doc Rivers left Boston with three years remaining on his contract for the Los Angeles Clippers last summer, having to deal with a racist owner was probably one of the last things on his mind.
The head coach openly admitted before Game 4 of the Clippers-Warriors series that he wasn’t fully familiar with Donald Sterling’s history of housing racial discrimination, amongst other character flaws, prior to taking the gig.
“It wasn’t [something I was familiar with], honestly. I knew the past outside of that,” Rivers said of Sterling’s racial-based housing discrimination. “Really didn’t know a lot about that, to be honest, and probably should have, I guess.”
On Monday, in a conference call with reporters, Rivers was not willing to make any definitive statements about his future in LA.
“I don’t want to answer that question,” Rivers told reporters when asked about his future with the team. “I don’t know. This just happened.”
However, now that Doc has become fully aware of Sterling’s racist tendencies, it appears the head coach has made a decision on his future with the team, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:
Rivers will never return as president and coach under Sterling, sources told Yahoo Sports, and that’ll start the beginning of a player mutiny that could result with several top Clippers also demanding out of the franchise.
The decision by Rivers is the right one and puts the pressure squarely on the league office and all NBA owners to find a way to remove Donald Sterling from the league in the coming months.
The eyes of the entire nation are on the NBA right now to see how they handle an owner who is also a bigot. Doc can only do so much from his current position as coach and vice president of basketball operations. He can’t force out a man who writes the checks for a franchise. By demanding out though, he continues to shine a bright light on the situation throughout the coming months.
With Rivers departing, it will likely inspire other Clippers players to do the same. Trades will be requested, free agents will surely refuse to sign with the Clippers and a dark cloud will linger over not just the franchise, but the league until Sterling is pushed out.
By all accounts, Sterling is a stubborn man who may not go down without a fight, but if the owners and commissioner Adam Silver are unified in removing the Clippers owner from power, it should be able to get done before the next season begins.
That’s the timetable that Rivers is placing on the owners by threatening to walk away if Sterling remains. Now, it’s on the owners to do something they probably should have done years ago: force Sterling out and save the NBA from even greater embarrassment.
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