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Silver admits mistakes in Game 1 fiasco, says Sterling saga 'over'

Adam Silver acknowledges the NBA's repsonse to the AC failure 'wasn't handled perfectly.'
Adam Silver acknowledges the NBA's response to the AC failure 'wasn't handled perfectly.' (USATSI)

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SAN ANTONIO -- Apropos to his chaotic early days as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver had two key issues to confront in his first Finals media address.

One had to do with the air conditioning. The other, the freezing out of Donald Sterling.

Still dealing with the embarrassment of 90-degree conditions in Game 1 of the league's championship series on Thursday, Silver admitted the situation "wasn't handled perfectly."

"It's certainly not one of my prouder moments in my short tenure as commissioner," Silver said.

The air conditioning at the AT&T Center, which failed during Game 1, was in excellent working order for Game 2 Sunday night. The temperature in the arena was 70 degrees at tipoff. The A/C had been repaired in time for a concert in the arena Friday night and a WNBA game on Saturday night.

"There was never a point where we were considering either postponing or canceling the game," Silver said.

Silver did not address the media Thursday night about the sweltering conditions in Game 1. Aside from a brief media appearance Friday in San Antonio, this was the first time he went into details about what went wrong and how it was all communicated and handled.

Silver said a circuit breaker that controls the water pumps that feed the air conditioning system failed at 7:55 p.m. CT on Thursday -- minutes before tipoff. League officials were notified of the problem shortly after 8 and were told that engineers were trying to fix it.

Late in the second quarter, Silver said league officials were informed that the outage could not be repaired.

LeBron James could not finish the game due to muscle cramping, and Silver was asked his thoughts on the conditions affecting the outcome of the game -- and possibly, the series.

"I'm glad that this isn't single-elimination; it's best of seven," Silver said. "So it's too early to say how this Finals will be remembered."

Silver briefly touched on the state of the game and its finances, saying that in the wake of the 2011 lockout that fundamentally reset the competitive and cost structure of the sport, "The business of the NBA has never been better."

As for the issue that has consumed most of Silver's four-plus months as commissioner, the ouster of Sterling as owner of the Clippers, Silver said, "I think it's over. I think it's just a matter of time now."

Silver made clear that there are "a few steps left in the process" of removing Sterling as owner. Chief among them is the expected withdrawal of Sterling's lawsuit against the NBA and Silver himself, which hasn't happened yet.

Silver also said there are "a few additional things" that prospective owner Steve Ballmer needs to address with Donald and Shelly Sterling to finalize his purchase agreement.

After the requisite vetting of Ballmer by the league's advisory/finance committee -- which is largely procedural -- Silver said the full Board of Governors could vote to approve the sale at its July meeting in Las Vegas, or possibly earlier.

Silver said Donald Sterling's representatives initially said that the deposed owner would sign an agreement by which Shelly Sterling would protect the league from her husband's lawsuit.

"That hasn't happened yet," said Silver, adding that Shelly Sterling "has a high degree of confidence" that the issues will be resolved.

Silver said he spoke with Donald Sterling by phone shortly after the April 29 announcement that he was banning the owner for life and fining him $2.5 million. In that conversation, Silver said Sterling was "distraught ... but he was not remorseful at that time."

As for the punishment, Silver said, "There is absolutely no possibility that the lifetime ban will be rescinded or that the fine will be changed in any way."

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