In the dark days following the Donald Sterling comments, there was a belief that the Clippers might strike and refuse to play a playoff game if action was not taken. These rumors persisted throughout the league as the team had some big decisions to make with little time to make those decisions. Not even all the facts were out, although the ones that were were pretty damning.
Eventually, Adam Silver laid the hammer down and the games went on. The Clippers advanced and the story faded to the background (somewhat) as basketball became more important.
The idea of a strike though was very real as J.J. Redick told Dave Baumann on the Baumann and Big Joe Show on 810 AM CBS Radio in Orlando:
“There was a chance. I don’t know how close it got. We discussed a lot of different things. We discussed where we all were going to say something or one guy was going to say something. Ultimately, we allowed Doc Rivers to make a statement on behalf of our team. And then we went out and played basketball and played it pretty poorly in Game Four. Guys were just exhausted emotionally.
There was a lot of stuff going on. There were a lot of voices — whether it was media, or fans, or our friends or family — on what we should do. The overriding thing that I took away from it is that our team was very close before that, it got closer because of it and, ultimately, we all played for each other.
People ask me about this situation, I didn’t come to the L.A. Clippers because of Donald Sterling. I cam because of Doc, I came because of Chris [Paul], I came because of Blake [Griffin] and DJ [DeAndre Jordan]. I wanted to be a part of this group and this team. That’s the overriding sentiment that happened from this whole experience. Our group is very close and we have each other’s back.”
Redick was at somewhere near the center of the firestorm. Doc Rivers noted Redick, who is white if you did not know, was just as offended by Sterling’s racist comments as black players on the roster. There were even reports that Donald Sterling balked at signing Redick because of his skin color, preferring to sign black players because of racial stereotypes involving athletes.
At the end of the day, Redick was the Clippers starter for most of the season. And he joined the team to have a chance to win a championship. He contributed greatly to that cause even though Los Angeles fell short, losing in six games to Oklahoma City in the second round.
With the Sterling distraction gone and a new, ($2 billion) committed owner, the Clippers future is looking exceedingly brighter.