Roger Mason Jr., the vice president of the NBA players association, told Jim Rome, for the program Jim Rome on Showtime, that the players would boycott next season if Donald Sterling is still in place, and that he had talked to LeBron James about it, according to a press release from Showtime:
"If it's not handled by… the start of next season, I don't see how we're playing basketball," Mason said. "I was just in the locker room with LeBron… At the end of the day, you know we have leaders. We have player reps, we've got executive committee members… Leaders of the teams, they're all saying the same thing, 'If this man is still in place, we ain't playing'."
Rome followed up: "So your guy LeBron, you think he would not play if Sterling were still in there when the [next] season started?"
"I was just in the locker room three or four days ago. LeBron and I talked about it," Mason said. "He ain't playing if Sterling is still an owner."
Rome asked him if it would be the same if Sterling's wife, Shelly, was still an owner. Mason responded, "There's no place for that family in the NBA."
Mason, who is a free agent after being dealt from the Miami Heat to the Sacramento Kings and subsequently waived at February's trade deadline, is trying to make as strong a statement as possible. The NBPA have been as clear as can be since the start of this saga: the players want Sterling gone, and they want him gone soon.
Teams were reportedly ready to boycott playoff games if NBA commissioner Adam Silver's initial punishment for Sterling wasn't deemed satisfactory, and TNT analyst Charles Barkley has already publicly stated the same thing that Mason did, though without reference to the league's biggest star signing on. The only problem with the speculation about next season is that, well-intentioned as the league might be, it might not be possible to get the Sterlings out in short order.
Despite immense public pressure, neither Donald nor Shelly Sterling appears to be eager to disappear. According to Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated, trying to force a sale will be "an epic legal fight" for the NBA. If Silver and the league's lawyers are doing all that they can to get the Clippers in somebody else's hands, would the players really sit out? That's a serious question that the NBPA will have to discuss in between now and next season.
The Showtime interview with Rome and Mason premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.