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Silver: NBA's fight with Sterling almost over

Adam Silver Gives Finals Address


By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Donald Sterling hasn't quite given up the fight, but Adam Silver thinks the time is coming.

"While I understand his frustration, I think it's over," Silver said Sunday.

The NBA commissioner said Sterling still hasn't signed off on the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, or agreed to drop his lawsuit against Silver or the NBA. But Silver believes he ultimately will, because Shelly Sterling's agreement with the league covers the NBA's legal responsibilities in case of a suit.

"So in essence, Donald is suing himself and he knows that," Silver said.

Silver also said before Game 2 of the NBA Finals that there is "absolutely no possibility" of rescinding the lifetime ban or $2.5 million fine he handed down to Sterling following his racist remarks.

Silver said he spoke with Sterling shortly after delivering his punishments and found him to be "distraught" but "not remorseful at that time."

Sterling's attorneys had eventually indicated to the league that he would drop his fight and work with his estranged wife to finish off the record $2 billion sale to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Sterling may be changing his mind now, but Silver doesn't seem concerned.

"I think it's just a matter of time now, and then we will move on to better topics and back to the finals," Silver said.

The dominant topic at the finals thus far has been the air conditioning failure in Game 1. Temperatures in the arena rose to about 90 degrees in the second half, and Heat star LeBron James left the game with about 4 minutes left after battling cramps.

Silver said he is satisfied the problem has been fixed and that the situation was handled as best as possible after the circuit breaker failed just before the game, leaving no time for repair.

""In hindsight it wasn't handled perfectly, but they'd never been confronted with that issue before," said Silver, who was at the game and communicating with league and arena officials.

"I would say that it's certainly not one of my prouder moments in my short tenure as commissioner so far, but it's the nature of this game. There always are going to be human and mechanical errors and it's unfortunate."

With the Sterling situation, and the rocky first finals game of his tenure, Silver has had some difficult moments during his first four months on the job. He replaced David Stern on Feb. 1, and both men have said they proud of the way the transition was handled.

Silver was designated as Stern's successor in October 2012, when Stern announced his plans to retire as commissioner. But Silver had already been taking on more responsibilities by then, serving as the league's lead negotiator during the lockout in 2011, and Stern repeatedly said he was confident Silver was the man to take the NBA to new heights.

But Silver probably couldn't have imagined some of the things he would face so soon.

"It's the early days. I've done the best I could," Silver said.

He has been widely praised for his response to Sterling's remarks, though said Sunday in hindsight he wishes perhaps the NBA could have done more sooner after previous allegations of racist behavior by Sterling.

However, something is being done now.

"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.

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