“That’s the least of our worries is him,” Chris Paul said. “We just lost a damn series.”The Clippers and the NBA surely have a damn fight on their hands. One that is not likely to go away any time soon, leaving the franchise in a state of uncertainty and hanging under the Sterling cloud. “I think I’m prepared for somewhat of a messy summer, mentally at least,” coach Doc Rivers said. “I just think it’s going that way. I have a ton of faith in our league that we’ll try to get it straight. But we’ll see.”A report Thursday indicated Sterling, the maligned Clippers owner, won’t pay the $2.5 million fine the NBA levied and that he’s threatening to sue the league in an attempt to not sell the Clippers. The NBA banned Sterling for life, and with a three-fourths vote of its owners, he’ll be forced to sell the team. And that’s where the prolonged affair will begin. An ugly fan incident marred the end of Game 6 when a Clippers fan threw a bottle on the court to protest an official’s call.The drink spilled all over a section of the court and a towel team of about eight people using dozens of towels cleaned up the mess. That was just the start of what might shape up to be an ugly, contentious summer for the Clippers and their fans. With no more playoff basketball following Oklahoma City’s 104-98 Western Conference semifinal series-clinching victory on Thursday, now the scandalous Donald Sterling saga will take center stage.Of course, that story overshadowed most of what the Clippers did in the playoffs anyway. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error A reporter asked Paul and Blake Griffin if they would play next season if Sterling still owned the team, but Paul sidestepped the question and a team official shut down the news conference.As for Sterling, Griffin said: “It’s somebody I never really knew.”No matter how much the Clippers fought to win Game 7 of the first-round series against Golden State and no matter the comeback — from down 22 points — to win Game 4 in Los Angeles or anything else they’ve weathered this postseason, the Clippers always were overshadowed with news about one Sterling or another.“That’s the last thing on my mind,” Paul said. “He gets too much attention as it is.”The battle will continue only as the NBA tries to wrestle ownership away from Sterling, who has yet to apologize (a real one) and has only further insulted others (see Anderson Cooper interview). The Clippers at least had a distraction with the playoffs, but they can’t mask the Sterling shenanigans now. The Clippers can take a deep, collective breath having dealt an unconscionable blow during the playoffs, but they’ll be waiting to exhale for an uncertain future. “You know, I’m tired,” Rivers said. “I can tell you that. I’m going to go somewhere and, first of all, lose some weight. I feel like I’ve gained 40 pounds during this thing.”And the weight of Sterling’s shadow will loom larger this offseason. There is one saving grace.“We don’t have to do a lot,” Rivers said of free-agent signings. “So that’s like a saving grace for us this summer. Thank gosh we don’t have six or seven free agents. We don’t have that, so I think that helps. We’ll see how it goes.”That fan’s drink hurled onto the court was just the start of what’s sure to be dirty mess for the Clippers that won’t be easily cleaned up with a few towels.
"This is just the start of what’s sure to be a messy summer for Clippers"