The interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clipppers, Richard Parsons met with media on Monday afternoon, for the first time since his appointment to the job by the NBA. It was televised live on NBA TV. Parsons explained his role, how long he expects to be in the job and the extent of any contact he has had, if any with either Donald Sterling or his wife Shelly.
Parsons is a fascinating character and his tone with the press was very light and conversational. He goes way back with the NBA and current commissioner Adam Silver from his days at Time Warner which owned the Atlanta Hawks and the league's TV partners TNT and TBS. He felt comfortable enough when asked about the length of his tenure to say he isn't in this for the long haul, but he wouldn't be gone by July of this year.
That's because his mission is to preside over the team's operations during the transition from one owner to the next and he is confident that Adam Silver and the NBA will succeed in terminating the ownership rights of the group headed up by Donald Sterling. He explained that he will no have no part in the transfer of ownership, whether it is picking a new owner or working with the NBA's Board of Governors to do so.
"My job is to be the CEO of the enterprise and to make sure the boat still floats, is going in the right direction and maybe we pick up a little speed. Adam and the league's job is ..... ownership and bringing in new owners."
When asked whether he'll be involved in choosing players for the NBA draft next month, he explained that he will work with Doc Rivers, the Clippers coach and president of basketball operations only as a sounding board. He isn't about to supplant the knowledge and depth of experience of Rivers.
Has he talked with either of the Sterlings? "I have not had any conversation with Shelly Sterling or Donald. I don't know either and have never spoken to either. I anticipate as we go forward, unless something changes, in time we'll have some conversations and get to know Shelly, not so with Donald since he's been banned. The only thing we'd have to talk about would be the team and he's banned, he can't do that."
Parsons was asked about his comments on CNN from last week, regarding his opinion about whether his ethnicity had something to do with his appointment to the job, Parsons said:
"While I don't think it was irrelevant that I am African-American, that was not Adam Silver's primary motivation. Doc is doing a hell of a job and people notice that. I hope I can too and help people look beyond just race and look to the content of people's character and their ability to perform."
Who does he report to? There's a fascinating answer to that and it has nothing to do with who hired him and who pays him. The league chose him and pays his salary, whatever that is, but he does not report to the NBA. Since owner Donald Sterling is not in place any longer, there is no one above him in the organization.
"My mandate from the NBA is not only to run the team but to be the proxy owner, if you will, for all matters having to do with the operations of the team and not to do with the resolution of ownership. I don't report either to the Sterlings or the NBA. I used the word with Adam of 'conservator' one that cares for something to preserve what's there..."
"I have a mandate and it tells me what I can and cannot do, but I do not report back to the NBA. Half of me reports to the other half of me. The half of me that is management reports to one that is the owner's proxy, which is an interesting place to be."
Interesting indeed. In the meantime, both Donald and Shelly Sterling did one-on-one interviews for airing on TV. Shelly spoke with Barbara Walters and Donald chose CNN's Anderson Cooper to conduct his first on-air interview since the audio recordings were made public and he was banned for life from the NBA.
There's much more where that came from and it is available on video at NBA.com.