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Silver spares NBA playoffs from mass boycott by not sparing Sterling

The Los Angeles Clippers became the story of the NBA playoffs for the wrong reasons. As the Clippers waited for word on Donald Sterling's punishment on April 29, the question was what the team would and should do if Adam Silver wasn't harsh enough. But the Golden State Warriors were the other forgotten team in this series -- and they were one of many teams planning to postpone the NBA playoffs if Sterling wasn't banned.

Curry, Warriors decide to play after Sterling ban
Photo by Stephen Dunn

Once Silver handed out his lifetime ban to Sterling on April 29, the Warriors revealed their back-up plan. If Silver wasn't hard enough on the Clippers' racist owner, the Warriors were planning to take the court for Game 5 at the Staples Center, then collectively walk out at the jump ball and not come back.

By that point, it might not have been much of a shock, since the Warriors-Clippers Game 5 was the last on the playoff schedule for the night, By then, the other NBA games between the Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls, and Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder, might have been canceled due to walk outs.

According to NBA Players Association Vice President Roger Mason Jr., "all our players" felt like boycotting if Silver had come up short on Sterling. Although the Warriors were the most vocal about it, the Clippers seemed like they would have followed suit as well. However, if Golden State took on more of a leadership role about it than Los Angeles, it would have been ironic.

But with Sterling kicked out of the Clippers and the NBA forever -- pending an owner's vote and whatever legal obstacles Sterling kicks up -- the playoffs were allowed to go on as normal. As such, the Wizards got to eliminate the Bulls on time, while the Grizzlies won yet another overtime thriller over the Thunder and the Warriors faced elimination from playing Game 5 after all.

Once the Clippers played Game 4 and lost with a half-hearted effort, there was room to suggest they could have done much more by boycotting in the first place. Yet since Silver did the maximum of what he could have done to Sterling after all, it balanced out in the long run. But even if it hadn't, the NBA playoffs apparently would have been halted by much more than the Clippers.

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