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Silver Protects NBA's Chief Partners: TV Networks

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by Jon Friedman
April 30, 2014 2:40 PM
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Yes, Donald Sterling, the soon to be former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise, showed himself to be a creep, a fool, a villain for making racist comments during a telephone conversation. 

And NBA Commissioner Adam Silver struck a powerful note for human decency by promptly imposing a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine on Sterling.

But Silver did something else: He had the backs of the league's most important partners: television networks that broadcast the games.

We'll never quite know whether the top NBA players, like Kevin Durant and John Wall, might actually have boycotted playoff games, had Silver not moved decisively against Sterling.

But ABC/ESPN and TNT would not likely have liked the idea of having to reshuffle the television broadcast schedules of the playoff games and rounds. 

Whether the owners like to admit it or not, the NBA is dominated by the players. It is a "stars" league. Fans want to watch their favorite players shoot the 3 and throw down dunks. When some of the best known players murmur about boycotting games, the team owners will likely put pressure on Adam Silver -- and vice versa -- about taking strong actions.




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