SAN ANTONIO – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took a modest approach to his first 128 days in office, a period dominated by one of the league's most serious crises.
"I've done the best I could," Silver said on Sunday before the start of Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
His best has won over a lot of people.
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Just a little over a month after Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's inflammatory and racially insensitive comments were made public, the commissioner acted quickly and prevented the incident from dragging out for months and possibly years.
The Sterling situation is close to end.
"I think it's over," Silver said. "I think it's just a matter of time now, and then we will move on to better topics."
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Silver hopes league owners can vote on approving the sale to ex-Microsoft CEO and billionaire Steve Ballmer in mid-July but said it could happen before then. Shelly Sterling, Donald's wife, become sole trustee of the Sterling trust and then brokered the deal with Ballmer without her husband's involvement.
However, issues remain before the league can approve the sale to Ballmer, who agreed to pay $2 billion for the team.
Sterling has not dropped his lawsuit against the NBA, and Silver said Donald and Shelly Sterling have their issues to resolve before the sale can be approved.
"Shelly Sterling has indemnified us against that lawsuit, and we have been told by Shelly Sterling's lawyers that she and Donald plan to work out their remaining dispute, but that hasn't happened yet," Silver said. "Again, I take very seriously the fact that he has a pending lawsuit against the league. So I want to make sure that's resolved before we say this is behind us, but I have absolute confidence it will be."
Silver said Sterling's lifetime ban will not be rescinded, and his $2.5 million fine will not be changed. He also reiterated Shelly Sterling will not own any stake in the Clippers and any charitable foundation she starts with profits from the sale will not be associated with the Clippers.
While steps are required before Ballmer becomes owner of the team, Silver does not anticipate a situation where the league would need to reschedule the termination hearing. Silver also said Ballmer plans to bring in other investors once the sale is complete.
"You know what stands out is how the league came together at that moment, from that Saturday in Memphis," Silver said of the day the Sterling audio recording came out. "I'm very proud of the owners that are in this league, that remain in this league. … . We recognized we had a difficult situation we had to deal with, as I've said before.
"Doc Rivers was terrific in the way he led his team. Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, who happened to be involved already with the Players Association, because he's leading the search, he did a terrific job. So I would say I've never been prouder of the entire NBA family."
In addition to the Sterling incident, Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs was not played without a game-altering hitch. The air conditioning malfunctioned causing sweltering temperatures inside AT&T Center and forcing Heat superstar LeBron James to miss stretches of the game, including the final 3:59, with severe leg cramps.
Silver said the AC failure was "certainly not one of my prouder moments in my shorten tenure as commissioner so far" and said "in hindsight it wasn't handled perfectly."
The electrical problem was fixed on Friday, and the AT&T Center had two events – a concert and WNBA game – before Game 2.
"First, I'm glad that this isn't single elimination. It's the best-of-7," Silver said. "It's too early to say how this Finals will be remembered. My sense is having been involved with the league for a long time, there will be all kinds of great moments that will happen – Game 2 going forward, which will stand out more than the heat in Game 1."
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