An average of 4.73 million people watched the LA Clippers beat the Golden State Warriors last night on TNT, just hours after the NBA slapped Clippers owner Donald Sterling with a lifetime ban and fined him $2.5 million in the wake of racist comments he made in a phone conversation with his mistress. That makes it the most watched game so far this playoff season, and about double the crowd playoff games were clocking at same point last post-season.
The game was dramatic, but for what was going on around the court, not on it. Many attendees came dressed in black — including the cheerleaders — in a show of support for the team, and audience members were encouraged to hold up their signs of protest/support, which were put up on overhead screens.
During his midday news conference, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also had forecast that Sterling would be forced to sell the team. That requires three-quarters of NBA owners voting to make that happen, which Silver said he was confident he could pull off. Good thing too, because the Warriors claimed they had a plan in place to walk off the court at the start of the game had any fine less hammer-like come down, The Mercury News reported. The NBPA said the union had tentative commitments to refuse to play from player reps on all six of the teams that were in action last night, had the NBA not announced a plan to force Sterling to sell, the paper reported.
“If a decision would have come down differently than it did, you wouldn’t have seen that [Clippers] game — or any game,” Magic Johnson said at today’s Milken Institute Conference in Beverly Hills.