The players union, still without an executive director since firing Billy Hunter in February 2013, asked former NBA All-Star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to take a leading role on the players' behalf.
Kevin Johnson said he called an emergency phone meeting of every player representative to the union Saturday and spoke with Silver before the Warriors-Clippers game Sunday. Calling it a "defining moment" for the league and commissioner, Johnson said the players trust Silver will accommodate their requests, which include:
—Sterling doesn't attend any NBA games for the rest of the playoffs because of the "enormous distraction."
—Give a full account of past allegations of discrimination by Sterling and why the league never sanctioned him.
—Explain the range of penalties that the league could bring against Sterling.
—Assurance the NBA and the union will be partners in the investigation.
—A decisive ruling, hopefully before the Clippers host the Warriors for Game 5 on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
"They trust that Adam Silver will do the right thing," Johnson said.
The league and the Clippers are investigating, though ultimately the decision will be perceived as Silver's.
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"He's got to come down hard," Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson, who was referenced on the audio recording, said Sunday on ABC.
The NBA Constitution is not public, though it's understood the commissioner's powers are broad when it comes to dealing with matters deemed "prejudicial or detrimental to the best interests of basketball." A fine, a suspension, a demand for sensitivity training, all that and more is surely at Silver's disposal.
It seems probable some sort of resolution comes before Game 5 of the series in Los Angeles.
"We're going home now," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said after Sunday's 118-97 loss. "Usually that would mean we're going to our safe haven. And I don't even know if that's true, to be honest."
Sterling agreed to not attend Sunday's game, though his wife — who has filed suit against the woman alleged to be on the tape — was present. There could be more audio coming; a person in the office of attorney Mac E. Nehoray, who represents the woman allegedly on the tape, said the full recording lasts about an hour. The attorney's office also insists that the recording is legitimate and that Sterling is the man on the tape.
Also on Sunday, the NAACP announced on Twitter that "#DonaldSterling will not be receiving a lifetime achievement award from the LA Branch of the NAACP." Sterling had been slated to receive the honor on May 15 as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the group's Los Angeles branch.
Some players feel for the magnitude of the task Silver is facing.