Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Real 'Olivia Pope' sees tough road for NBA

Managing the Clipper crisis

Crisis management expert Judy Smith sees a business and ethical quandary for the NBA, after Commissioner Adam Silver's announcement banning Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling from basketball.

"When you have fans, you have the public, you have sponsors, all saying that this is totally, totally unacceptable—they're going to have to take a hard stand," said the woman who inspired the fictional character of D.C. public relations fixer Olivia Pope on ABC's prime-time series "Scandal."

Kerry Washington playing Olivia Pope in a scene from 'Scandal'.

Read MoreRacist comments hit revenue of every NBA team

In an interview earlier this week at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, Smith said she hopes the new public face of the Clippers organization will "take a strong hand in leadership, with integrity and ethics."

Silver announced Tuesday that Sterling would be banned for life after tapes came to light of him making racist statements on a telephone call. The league fined Sterling $2.5 million and plans to push for a sale of the team.

Read MoreSterling's punishment could make him millions

Smith's most important advice in times of professional crisis?

"Tell the truth," said Smith, whose past clients include Monica Lewinsky and NFL quarterback Michael Vick. The cover-up is "far worse than the crime."

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