Clippers' Interim CEO: "The Boat Still Floats"

A former top executive with Time Warner and Citicorp was appointed by the NBA last week to supervise the Clippers as the league moves to terminate Donald Sterling as owner

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Tuesday, May 13, 2014  |  Updated 5:14 AM PDT
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The Los Angeles Clippers officially introduced their new interim CEO on Monday, two weeks after owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments surfaced. Patrick Healy reports from Staples Center for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 12, 2014.

Patrick Healy/Dennis Lahti

The Los Angeles Clippers officially introduced their new interim CEO on Monday, two weeks after owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments surfaced. Patrick Healy reports from Staples Center for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 12, 2014.

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Newly appointed Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons discussed Monday what he called a period of transition and his role as "conservator" of the team as the NBA moves to oust Donald Sterling as owner.

The NBA appointed Parsons -- a former top executive with Time Warner and Citicorp -- last week to supervise the Clippers after the league's commissioner urged owners last month to ban Sterling over racist comments he made during a recorded conversation.

Parsons, who played basketball at the University of Hawaii, is currently a senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners. He sits on the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates.

At his first news conference Monday afternoon as team CEO at Staples Center, where LA won a comeback thriller Sunday to tie the best-of-seven playoff series against Oklahoma City at two games apiece, he talked about his role.

"The team has risen to the challenge, and I'm hoping to some small extent I can, too," Parsons said. "There's is huge danger and pitfalls, but there is tremendous opportunity for this franchise. My job is to be the CEO of the enterprise and make sure... the boat still floats and is headed in the right direction, and maybe pick up a little speed."

He described himself as a "conservator" left to oversee a property while a dispute is resolved.

"The team right now finds itself without executive leadership, and that's not something the NBA can tolerate," Parsons said. "They need someone to be, on an interim basis, the leader, to make sure no value is lost, help it move to the next level and move through this period of transition."

Sterling has been banned from all team activities, including games and practices. The team's president, Andy Roeser, has taken a leave of absence, leaving Parsons as the team's top acting executive.

Parsons' remarks come after the NBA's longest tenured owner made his first public comments regarding the ban and recording -- a conversation involving Sterling and companion V. Stiviano. On the recording, a man can be heard criticizing the woman for posting online about bringing black friends to games. The man is also heard chastising the woman for posting a photo on Instagram with Lakers great and Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson.

In an interview with CNN, the 80-year-old Sterling said the remarks were a "terrible mistake."

Parsons said has not had any conversations with Sterling or his estranged wife and team co-owner, Rochelle. He said there is "not much" he can do about the team's ownership siituation.

"Donald Sterling questions are hard for me to answer because I don't know this man," Parsons said.

Silver banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million April 29 for making racist comments.

The termination process has involved two meetings so far of the NBA's advisory/finance committee. The 10-member committee has met to discuss the process, which could eventually come to a vote of the league's other owners.
 

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