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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS
L.A. Clippers Owner Banned for Life; The Search for Flight 370; Australian Company May Have Found Missing Plane
Aired April 29, 2014 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is a CNN SPECIAL REPORT. I'm Don Lemon.
Tonight, turns out you do pay a price for being a racist in this country. If you're Donald Sterling, that price is $2.5 million, not to mention being banned from the NBA for life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Just moments ago and moments before their playoff game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers praised Adam Silver for that decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOC RIVERS, L.A. CLIPPERS HEAD COACH: I thought Adam Silver today was just fantastic, personally.
I thought he made a decision that really was the right one that had to be made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But the question is, is that enough to put out the raging fire that is the Sterling scandal? I'm going to ask nine-time NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins and the real-life Olivia Pope from TV's "Scandal," Judy Smith, will join us.
We also have all the latest on the search for Flight 370, why tonight some people are saying that the plane may be in the Bay of Bengal. There are still many more questions than answers. You have been tweeting us by the thousands and my experts are standing by to answer your questions about the plane and about the Sterling scandal, like this one from Andrew, who says: "Rich men are probably paying off their mistresses right now out of fear."
I'm going to bring in now -- begin with the Sterling scandal and bring in Stephanie Elam. She is outside the Staples Center, where the Clippers face the Warriors in game five of the NBA playoffs in just a few minutes, and then "UNGUARDED" host Rachel Nichols is right here with me in studio in New York. Good evening to both of you.
Stephanie, to you first out there in the field. You're outside the Staples Center where the Clippers are playing tonight. How are the fans reacting?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We haven't heard from the players just yet other than a few tweets coming out earlier today. We haven't actually spoken to them yet and I think they're doing a pretty darn good job of keeping them sequestered because they want them to focus on the game ahead of them. Obviously, they want to win this game. And they're hoping that they haven't support here.
But what I can tell you about the mood here, I have been out here all day long and as that press conference began in New York, you could feel the tension sort of build up to it and then sort of calm down a bit, because everyone was wondering what was going to happen if the NBA did not react swiftly and with the harsh ability at their command.
And so all day out here, when I first got here, they had the street barricaded. Yesterday, I drove down the street to make it to my live shot. Today, that wasn't an option. They wanted everything shut down so that if there was a big protest, it wasn't going to happen. I just talked to a commander from the LAPD, and he told that's there are about 100 people or so on the other side of Staples Center, but most people just stopping to look at them and continue on their way to the game.
I have been inside the arena. There are people in there with Clippers jerseys on, with T-shirts on. I saw some players warming up. They also have their jersey on. It looks like everyone is back here focused on the game, including the coaches. They're tired but they're ready to play this game, Don.
LEMON: As normal as it can get after this.
Rachel, I want to ask you this, because the commissioner's decision, banned for life. He took swift action, concise action.
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The hammer.
LEMON: And it seemed very personal for him. Do you think this is a turning moment for race or racism in professional sports?
First of all, it's a big moment for Adam Silver and the NBA. This is a new commissioner and this was his chance to put a stamp on what his tenure is going to be like. What he said is there is no room for this in this league. He also explained that, hey, this problem goes way beyond sports.
We also heard that echoed from Kevin Jackson, the mayor of Sacramento, who of course used to be a player in the NBA. He said this is an example for everybody that bigotry cannot stand. It's basically everybody standing up and saying, hey, we have got a limit and you have passed it.
LEMON: They voiced great support, Doc Rivers, the players in a statement for the commissioner, and it seemed like they were just so relieved because they were thinking the worst thing could happen that nothing or something very minor would happen to Donald Sterling, but there was a sigh of relief.
NICHOLS: I want to explain what a powder keg the NBA avoided here.
The players all day today were talking to each other, and not just the L.A. Clippers players, but players around the league. They were waiting with bated breath to see what Adam Silver was going say at 2:00 p.m. And if it wasn't enough, if it wasn't to their liking, they had all agreed they were going to boycott the games tonight.
These are huge games for the NBA. This is the playoffs. They make a tremendous amount of money, the television ratings, the attention. And yet they said they were going to walk out and not play these games if the penalty was not harsh enough. It's great that Adam Silver did what he did, but make no mistake. There's a bit of an anvil hanging over his head. He better do something major.
LEMON: These are the Clippers players, right?
NICHOLS: These are the Clippers players, but also players from around the league. This was a group effort. There is no one to really single out. It was more of the idea of, hey, as a unit, as a group, we're all going to say we're not going to play under these circumstances because they know really that's the greatest weapon that they had. And Adam Silver instead came out and he really made everybody incredibly happy and, as you say, relieved.
LEMON: This is all in the owners' court right now. Can you imagine two-thirds not coming out though and saying --
NICHOLS: And, by the way, this is a power play on Adam Silver's part.
And I think it's genius.
LEMON: How do you mean?
NICHOLS: Here's the deal. The thing that he could do, what is in his power was to institute the lifetime ban and basically say, hey, you will never have anything to do with this team again. He could fine him up to $2.5 million, which he did, the maximum, although, let's be honest, Donald Sterling is worth $1.9 billion.
LEMON: Until he sells the team and then he will be worth more.
NICHOLS: Well, then he will be worth even more. But that's couch cushion change. Right? So that's nothing. But this move to disenfranchise him and make him actually sell his team, that's unprecedented. And if Adam Silver had gone to the other owners first, which is what normally a commissioner would do, he would say, hey, do I have consensus, will you guys back me if I do this, I think a lot of them would have said no or privately would have said, gee, I don't know.
He didn't do that.
LEMON: He didn't ask.
NICHOLS: I asked him in the press conference today, I said, did you poll your owners? What kind of support did you have? He very tellingly gave the answer, and said, I haven't polled them. I have talked to a few of them and I think I have enough support.
He threw it out in the court of public opinion first. That is a power move. By doing that and by telling everyone it's on the owners, then all of the owners now have the public and their own players to deal with.
LEMON: Instead of taking a poll, he did the right thing, which is good, and the players really responded to it. Everyone in the league really responded well to it.
Stephanie Elam, thank you very much. Rachel, I want you to stick right there with me and help me get through the next hour.
I want to bring in now nine-time NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins. He's now vice president of the Atlanta Hawks. Also sports attorney David Cornwell. I feel like I'm at a Hawks game because that's when I would run into you guys when I lived in Atlanta.
Dominique, thank you. Thank you, guys, for joining us.
We heard words like historic to describe today's decision. The great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said it will be a new day. Is this a turning point and will we look back and say that this was one of the transcending moments of sports, Dominique?
DOMINIQUE WILKINS, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I think so.
I think what Adam Silver did was outstanding. I was personally so proud of him, the way he stood up, not just for the players and owners, but how he stood up for people in general to really level -- I just think in coming down with the decision that he came down with really put everybody at ease, like you talked about before, because at the end of the day, everything that happened up to this point has been wrong, that everything that came out of Donald Sterling's mouth.
And you're right, there's no room in sports, there's in room in society actually for this type of behavior and bigotry and racism. It just shouldn't exist, but unfortunately it exists in some people's mind. And you got to understand something, that racism is taught. It's not inherited. We got to do the best we can to eradicate that. LEMON: Thank you. I'm glad you said that.
David, to you next. After the commissioner's decision, there seemed to be a collective sigh of relief, as everyone is saying, from the players, from the league, from the leaders, almost like they were expecting to be let down. Did you sense that?
DAVID CORNWELL, SPORTS ATTORNEY: I did. And I agree that Adam's passion came through in his statement and he went as far as he could.
I believe Rachel is absolutely right that Adam understood the winds, what was really needed here was to get Donald Sterling out of the NBA. He didn't have the power to do so, but he drew a bright line today and said to the owners, I think this is what you need to do. I'm telling you this is what I want you to do. And you understand how to do it. I expect you to get it done.
And frankly I think that not only will they get Donald Sterling out, I think it's going to be unanimous. I don't think any owner is going to be the guy that votes against getting Donald Sterling out of the NBA.
LEMON: I want to ask you this, Dominique, because you know Bruce Levenson, the owner. And people say who's the owner of the team? I said the guy in the blue jacket that's pulling his hair out over there sitting on the front row.
NICHOLS: Not this week, by the way.
LEMON: Do you think that he, you know, he's going to vote to force to sell?
WILKINS: No question about it.
I'm very close to Bruce Levenson, all of our owners. Particularly here in Atlanta, you got the Guerin family. It's like a brother and a family to me. And you have got Ed Peskowitz and Rutherford Seydel. All these guys who are part of the ownership feels the exact same way. They want this man out of power, because, again, you can't condone this type of behavior or sweep it under the rug.
You have got to understand that Donald Sterling has a past. He has a background of bad things that he's done racially. So absolutely our ownership is supporting Adam Silver and what he's come down with. I'm very proud of our organization and how they have stepped forward publicly and said, look, we can't have this in our league.
LEMON: Go, Hawks. Go, Hawks, by the way.
So, listen, everybody is throwing their hats into the ring. Pat Croce, he's a former owner of the 76ers, Magic Johnson, David Geffen. There's a growing list of people who want to do this. How would this go down, Rachel?
Look, this is a hugely high-value franchise, right, Los Angeles. That building mints money practically that they play in. The NBA would take over the team and they have done that with other teams that have fallen under hard times financially.
We have seen the process actually pretty recently. What they do then is that work out an ownership deal. And they want to sell it for two different reasons. Obviously, money is going to be part of it, who will mint the most money, although in this case I think they're really going to be looking for the right ownership, who are the right partners.
There's doing to be a ton of scrutiny here, too. Whoever takes over the team is going to have to pass a very stiff standard in terms of morality, right, and P.R. and appeal.
NICHOLS: And I think they're going to be more careful with this one than they have in the past.
LEMON: All right, guys, everybody, stay with me. Stick around. Great conversation. I'm so glad that you're all here.
When we come right back, now that Donald Sterling has been banned for life, some sponsors are coming back to the Clippers. But will Sterling's charitable giving change anybody's mind about him?
LEMON: A $2.5 million fine is a drop in the bucket for billionaire Donald Sterling. It really is. "Forbes" lists him as the 328th richest person in America. He's made a killing on real estate and basketball. He's donated to charitable 'causes, but is he really a big philanthropist? And how does his giving weigh into his legacy in the wake of this racist rant?
CNN's Poppy Harlow has that.
QUESTION: Mr. Sterling, how are you, sir?
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Billionaire Donald Sterling opened his wallet for charity and let people know it.
QUESTION: Are you a racist, Mr. Sterling?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, of course not.
HARLOW: UCLA tells CNN this ad in Sunday's "L.A. Times" touting his gift for kidney research was actually placed by Sterling himself, not the university. UCLA is returning Sterling's $425,000 donation and rejecting the rest of his $3 million pledge.
KERRY DOLAN, FORBES MEDIA: He likes to portray himself as a charitable man. I would say on a spectrum he's about one of the least charitable billionaires out there. HARLOW: Sterling amassed a fortune of nearly $2 billion, according to "Forbes," largely from real estate with apartments across California. The NBA's $2.5 million fine, the maximum allowed, is a drop in the bucket for this billionaire.
He bought the L.A. Clippers for a reported $12 million in 1981. Some put the team's worth now at more than half-a-billion dollars.
(on camera): There's no saying exactly how much Sterling has given to charity, but tax returns show the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation has donated nearly $1.4 million since 2007, with thousands going to minority organizations, including the United Negro College Fund, Para Los Ninos, and the NAACP.
QUESTION: How much money did Donald Sterling give the NAACP?
LEON JENKINS, PRESIDENT, LOS ANGELES NAACP: It was not a significant amount of money.
HARLOW (voice-over): Sterling even received a humanitarian of the year award from the Black Business Association and a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP in 2009.
ALICE HUFFMAN, PRESIDENT, CALIFORNIA NAACP: We have to be careful about the money we take and we have to make sure that the color of the money does not taint us.
HARLOW: Sterling's foundation donated $30,000 to The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance, but its leader, Rabbi Marvin Hier, is appalled and says it won't accept money from Sterling ever again.
RABBI MARVIN HIER, FOUNDER, SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER: We used that $30,000 to combat the kind of racism, hatred and anti-Semitism that symbolizes what Sterling said in that tape.
HARLOW: CNN's calls to Sterling's representatives have not been returned and some organizations that have benefited from Sterling's fortune want nothing to do with him now.
DANIEL BOROCHOFF, CHARITYWATCH: Philanthropy has a long history of turning bad money into good. What shouldn't be happening is, somebody shouldn't be getting more praise than they really deserve.
HARLOW: Sterling's charitable foundation gifts total less than his NBA fine.
Poppy Harlow, CNN, New York.
LEMON: Poppy Harlow, thank you very much.
Here to react to all of this is sports agent Leigh Steinberg, author of "The Agent," also political commentator Marc Lamont Hill, and back with me, Dominique Wilkins, David Cornwell, and Rachel Nichols. Before I ask you a question, I just want to tell you guys what CharityWatch said. CharityWatch said, "Seeing how small his foundation is, it makes you wonder why he even has one, other than the prestige or for his public image value."
So, Leigh, I mean, welcome to the panel. What do you make of that?
LEIGH STEINBERG, SPORTS AGENT: Well, I live here.
And you cannot open "The Los Angeles Times" virtually any day without a massive Donald Sterling ad which features a big picture of him and then the charities that he's donating to. He worked very hard. He was for many years the most despised owner in Southern California, because he was penurious. The team didn't win. He made a profit.
And this team has given him the ability to be in the Hollywood spotlight, to be on the cutting edge. I can't think of a more awful punishment from his perspective than to lose the team. He doesn't need money, but to lose the team -- and this is all going to happen quickly. They have three days for an owner to file a charge here. He's got to respond within five. Then within 10, they hold the hearing, and then after the hearing they go immediately to a vote.
I was blown away and Southern California was blown away by the decisiveness and the way that the union came together with the players.
LEMON: And Adam Silver.
And you're right. For him, saving face, P.R. nightmare, that's probably worth more than money for him.
Listen, Marc, you did -- you have talked about this and I have heard you speaking about it. Why has this touched such a nerve, you think? This went way beyond just the basketball world, didn't it?
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, absolutely.
It strikes a nerve because many black people talk about this type of situation every single day. What Donald Sterling articulated was the type of racial micro-aggression that black people feel every day, where they can't put their finger on it, they can't always prove it, but they know that there are people who don't want them in their space, who might them to want for them, who might them to want to clean their houses, who might them to want them to -- who might even want to date them, but don't see them as full human beings and don't see them as people.
So, Donald Sterling sort of articulated that. And then there was a quest for justice. People worried that big money would win out and that Donald Sterling would get out of this without any significant discipline.
LEMON: Yes. I got a tweet in Bob and he says: "I don't agree with Sterling, but whatever happened to free speech in this country?"
This has nothing to do -- Marc first and then I will let you get in, Rachel.
HILL: This isn't a free speech argument.
He has every right to say what he wants in his house or elsewhere. The reality though is that free speech comes with penalties. People have a right to make judgments about you based on what you say, and we did today.
LEMON: Right. Right.
And also according to her, he knew what he was being recorded. And she said he was his archivist, because he would forget what he said and told her to record it. That's according to her.
NICHOLS: It doesn't matter.
What matters is this is now what he know how he thinks, which, by the way, a lot of us knew already from some of the past things that he involved in. And it made it more clear than it's ever been. We don't want to be around this person. We don't want to be partners with this person if you're in the NBA. We don't want to buy tickets from this person. We don't want to work for this person if you're the players.
That's not about free speech. That's about revealing character and knowing who you want to spend your time with.
David, you heard what Leigh said. He said, this is probably the worst thing that could happen to him because -- I'm paraphrasing here -- he said he has such a big ego. There's always something -- some ad in the paper.
But "Forbes" says he paid, what, $12 million in 1981. And it's now worth at least a half-billion dollars, probably a billion dollars or more. Who wins here?
CORNWELL: We win, because the flip side of free speech is the freedom to react to that free speech.
Donald Sterling, listen, I think the $1.9 billion includes some valuation on the Clippers. So he's not going to be any richer than he already is. He will get the cash and we can move on without him. I think we win because we won't have to deal with him.
LEMON: Listen, I want to -- Dominique, do you think this reflects badly? I want to read from Mark Cuban. But does this reflect badly on the former commissioner, David Stern.
We saw a tweet from Kayak and it says, "So a lifetime bad when you're 80."
Did David Stern allow Donald Sterling you think to flourish in the NBA for too long? WILKINS: Well, he flourished definitely for a very long time.
But Adam Silver --
LEMON: It's not just David Stern. A lot of people turned the other way, right?
WILKINS: But you can't really reflect on the past.
NICHOLS: The NAACP.
LEMON: The NAACP, right, didn't have a Google button. Go ahead. I'm sorry.
WILKINS: Right. You can't reflect on the past. The only thing you can do is act on what happens now.
Sometimes, in life, it takes a dramatic act for people to come together and see that something is wrong. And this is one of those acts that Sterling has displayed.
WILKINS: And most people would look at this and say, hey, they're very puzzled by Donald Sterling. He gives money to minority organizations, but the fact of the matter, he's very strategic on how he does things. He gets people to buy into what he believes. And on the surface, he looks like he's a great guy. And that's what happened, and so --
LEMON: That's exactly what Leigh just articulated in the beginning. He said every day in "The L.A. Times," you see something.
I want to make sure I get this in. I want Rachel to respond first and then you guys can as well. I want to read it here because I want to get the quote right.
Just yesterday, Mark Cuban, the owners of the Dallas Mavericks, said, "In this country, people are allowed to be morons, and forcing someone to sell their team because of what they said in the privacy of their own home is a very slippery slope."
I mean, he obviously said what he said was wrong, but do you think in private that some of the owners are like, oh, boy?
NICHOLS: This goes back to what I was saying before.
This is the power play that Adam Silver put out there today. A lot of people might not quite realize this. He did not go to the owners first, because if he had gone to them first, there were definitely concerns. We heard them articulated out loud by Mark Cuban. I'm sure there were a lot of owners who had this conversation in private.
Wait a minute, if we give Adam Silver the power, if we let him lead this charge to take this guy's franchise away, he might turn on us next. And, by the way, there some other owners in professional sports even in the NBA with some dirty laundry out there. There are some guys that might have the right to be concerned.
However, by making it public, by putting it out there today for everybody, Adam Silver basically took that choice away from them. Mark Cuban, who made that statement yesterday, today after hearing Adam Silver and knowing that there's no way he can come down on the side of Donald Sterling, even if it's for other reasons than agreeing with him, then he suddenly puts out a tweet saying, oh, I totally support the commissioner.
You can't be on Donald Sterling's side. Even if you're worried about the precedent it sets, Adam Silver set this up very, very smartly to make sure that he would get what he wanted.
LEMON: As one of the mega sports agents, right, I want Leigh Steinberg to weigh in on something right after the break. And that's how this changes for the players. Does it change the power structure here? Because if they're deciding to boycott a game when they're in the playoffs, that's a huge, huge move.
We will be right back right after this break.
LEMON: Donald Sterling's racist views might have been an open secret in some circle,s but most of us would never have known about them if it had not been caught on tape.
Now attention is turning to the woman heard on those tapes with him. And that's Sterling's much younger girlfriend, V. Stiviano, much younger girlfriend.
NICHOLS: Fifty years younger.
LEMON: Fifty years his junior.
Joining me now, someone who knows more than just about anyone about scandal. It's Judy Smith. She's he's a real-life Olivia Pope, a top crisis management expert and founder of Smith and Company. She's what you call a fixer and she's at the Milken Institute Global Conference tonight.
Thank you for so much joining us. Welcome.
This was a scandal really that bubbled up quickly and was handled pretty quickly as well. How did the commissioner do today?
JUDY SMITH, CRISIS MANAGEMENT EXPERT: I think he did a great job.
I think he came out, he set the tone. And, honestly, I think it was a big test for him, as well as the league. I think the issue is going to be, moving forward, Don, is really what will the owners do, because now it's really up to the owners to say that, no, you cannot own that team. So it's going to be interesting to see whether they have the courage to do that.
LEMON: You know, V. Stiviano, she has been in hiding, so to speak, but her attorney released a statement to "The L.A. Times" tonight.
And I wonder what your advice for her is. She says -- this is a quote -- very saddened. "She's very saddened by the decision to ban Donald Sterling for life and she never wanted any harm to Donald." He also said -- or she also said, for the record, she is not his mistress.
But still a lot of people have been questioning her motives. What advice would you have to her -- give to her?
SMITH: Well, I hate to give this advice, Don, because I know, when I say it, you're going to be mad at me.
SMITH: I would tell her that she needs to stop talking.
SMITH: She needs to stop talking to you guys and stop putting out statements.
You know, I saw yesterday where she came out of the house three or four times and issuing statements. I think that she needs to stay out of the press. That's what I would advise her to do. Yes.
LEMON: And Donald -- and Donald Sterling, what would you say to Donald Sterling? Because I've heard one crisis management person say, very creative but -- "I'm very creative, but I don't even know what to do for Donald Sterling." What would you -- what advice would you give him?
SMITH: Well, see, I don't know if I could actually work with him, because if I had to talk to him, I wouldn't be able to go to one of the games. No, on a serious side...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many points to Judy. Judy wins tonight.
SMITH: Yes. On the serious side, though, look. I mean, you know, what he did cannot be tolerated in any shape or form. And really, at least the brief interview that I heard today, there was no apology; there was no sense of being remorseful about what he has said.
So I think he needs to start there, if at all he feels that way.
LEMON: You are speaking at the Milton (ph) Institute conference as an expert in crisis communication. What lessons can be learned from this? And I'm also wondering, too if, at this point, the Clippers might need some crisis management and that you can help them with that.
SMITH: Yes, I think, you know, it's very interesting, because this particular type of scandal, it really does touch everyone. You have the employees that work very hard at the Clippers and the organization that does not want to be tainted with the same brush. You have the players. You have the fans. There are a lot of people that are touched by this.
And you have the sponsors. There have been a lot of corporations -- I know you guys are talked about it earlier -- that have -- that have pulled out.
I think one of the valuable lessons here is that, if you make a mistake, if you've done something wrong, if you've said something that is inappropriate, you need to take ownership of that. And that has not taken place here. Right? You can't run from things. You cannot run from things. You have to face into it, and I don't think that's been done here.
LEMON: All right. I want to bring in the rest of the panel and the expert team and let them weigh in.
First to David. David, I want you to take a look at this tweet. It's from Andrew. It says, "Rich men are probably paying off their mistresses right now out of fear." How many rich men do you think are there tonight, are thinking about their relationships and maybe, "Oh, wait a minute. I'm changing it," shall we say? What do you think?
CORNWELL: I think not. Listen, look, the slippery slope in those kinds of issues I think is kind of getting away from what's going on here.
I've been saying that, prior to today, there have been two kryptonite issues in sports. Zero tolerance.
CORNWELL: One is gambling, two is steroids and now racism. We've had controversies around racism before, but we've never had something so decisive, so serious and so impactful in response to racism in sports. So now we add another issue, zero tolerance, there's a bright line.
LEMON: And you're right. But you know, I ask you that because, you know, you've heard people say, oh, she's the worst girlfriend; she set him up, and you know, the onus is on her. What about, you know, his rights of free speech and on and on and on.
But Marc, you know, how many people are rethinking what they're saying behind closed doors tonight, because should we be that surprised? Most people I know are not surprised, and many people speak that way in the privacy of their own homes, but you don't hear it in public.
HILL: That's a great question, and there's two quick answers. The first thing is, I hope people aren't rethinking what they say to their girlfriends. I hope they are thinking being racist. You know, I don't want the narrative to be about her. It should be about Donald Sterling. Anything else is both sexist and counterproductive.
But to your point, yes, there are lots of people who say this stuff behind closed doors. Again, that's what black people are saying, "Um- hmm" about, about this whole controversy. It's not that Donald Sterling is some outlier. It's that there are many people who have said these things behind closed doors and who believe it. And crazy thing -- craziest thing of all is Donald Sterling really doesn't think he's racist.
LEMON: Yes, I wrote a column on that. I don't know if you saw it. The new racism is not knowing that you're racist. Because we've had Clive Bundy and Donald Sterling, and both of them are saying, "I'm not racist. What are you talking about?"
But you know, I say a lot of people say it behind closed doors. But if people say it -- we were talking about this today in the newsroom. If I ever say this in your presence, if I ever hear someone say that in my presence, I will call them out. And that's the difference. Many people just don't do that.
NICHOLS: But this is also a message to a lot of people. David's point is very well taken. This really lays out, hey, zero tolerance for this.
There are kids watching this play out. There are people watching this play out who may be a little bit on the fence, and this tells them, this is wrong. If you had any questions about this, let me clear that up for you. This is wrong. And you're going to get kicked out of what you want to be doing; you're going to lose your business over it. It's wrong. Stop.
LEMON: Right. It's time to move on, especially when it comes to this. Dominique, Commissioner Silver said that the voice on the tape is Donald Sterling, that he has admitted it. Does it matter how it was obtained?
WILKINS: Make no mistake: The young lady is not innocent in this whole thing. The way it was extracted wasn't, you know, right in the way she did it. But nevertheless, the information is out now. We know how Donald Sterling thinks behind closed doors. And this is one of those situations where you got caught because of those words.
But you know what? Again, I think this sets a precedent. This is a monumental event that now is going to put people really in the hot seat and, more importantly, it's going to hold them accountable for what you say. It takes events like this to really put people back in check.
At the end of the day across the board, across the board, forget about sports. This don't belong in society. Unfortunately, some of this still exists. But I'm glad that we as a league stepped forward, stood up for our players, coaches and society in general.
LEMON: Yes. And rallied...
WILKINS: Rallied together, absolutely.
LEMON: And rallied around each other. And rallied around the country.
Leigh, I want to ask you about the players have always been known to be on their best behavior. The players aren't at fault in this story in any way. But there's so much of a spotlight on them now. I'm wondering if this is an opportunity for the league to, you know, burnish its image and also the players -- it's a two-pronged question -- are the players feeling, you know, a sense of empowerment now? Are they feeling themselves, like, "Hey, we actually made a difference in all of this"?
STEINBERG: Well I think you saw that the union worked very closely and had a big influence on Adam Silver and what he did.
Remember now when you talk about this owners question, it wasn't just a Clipper problem. It was a problem for the whole NBA. The tsunami wave of Clipper-gate was about to threaten their international brand, television contracts, sponsors. Every owner sitting there is well aware of this.
The interesting thing about sports is, you know, I've spent 40 years working with athletes who try to be role models and to make a difference. And the irony of this is that, if there's ever a place in American life where you have blacks, whites, Asians working together harmoniously, not ten talking heads on "Washington Weekend Review" (ph)...
LEMON: Or six on CNN tonight.
STEINBERG: ... it's team sports. It's the fact that they live together, shower together, harmoniously play together, watch each other's backs. So this should be a shining example of what is or isn't tolerated today.
For the players this will end up well, because there'll be a new owner in Los Angeles. This is their best chance ever to -- to try and overtake the dominance that the Lakers have. We went through this with Frank McCourt in Southern California, hideous owner, terrible, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) despised the team. People were staying away in droves. A big balloon got popped today.
LEMON: A big weight got lifted today. And I want to ask you about that. You mentioned Frank McCourt. Now you're talking about Donald Sterling. Other owners around the league, do they need to pay attention?
NICHOLS: Yes, I mean look...
LEMON: And change their behavior?
NICHOLS: In the NBA, you have an owner Orlando, Rich DeVos, who made a very unpopular statement. He's campaigned against gay rights. He says that gay people should stop asking for special treatment because they want to get married. There are a lot of people in this country who think that that is a problem.
And I think that there's going to be more and more attention paid to what these owners think. It's not just the players in the spotlight now. It's not just management. They're accountable, too.
LEMON: Yes. Judy, where does the NBA go from here? You're the last word here. Where does the NBA go from here?
SMITH: I think the NBA has to do a few things. I think, one, hopefully they will be helping to apply pressure to the owners to do the right thing.
I think the other thing that the NBA is going to find themselves dealing with is an ongoing effort to make the sport much more diverse across the board. Not just on the players' side but just diverse across the board, and in particular with the ownership.
LEMON: Thank you, all of you. Great conversation. I'm so glad each of you took the time to -- and I'll be in Newport one day when it's not 60-mile-an-hour winds out there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, you're welcome.
LEMON: All right. Wouldn't we all love to be in Newport?
LEMON: Thank you, guys. Have a great evening.
Up next here on CNN, the latest on the search for Flight 370. The wreckage of a plane found, but it's thousands of miles away from the search zone. Could it be Flight 370?
LEMON: We have breaking news tonight. A new phase in the hunt for Flight 370. An intensified underwater search over the coming weeks. The Bluefin-21 will be moving to search areas adjacent to the original zone.
And meanwhile, thousands of miles away, an Australian company says they've found the wreckage of a plane in the Bay of Bengal. The company is not saying that this is the Flight 370, but it is urging searchers to take a look.
So joining me now by phone is David Pope. He's the CEO of Geo Resonance. Thank you for joining us on this program.
David, your company, Geo Resonance, says it detected an object that could be a commercial airliner. Tell us what you saw and what you think it is.
DAVID POPE, GEO RESONANCE (via phone): Good evening, Don. Thanks for having me on in the first place.
We have 23 sighters (ph) at work on the project. Their technology was designed to look for objects and different substances underwater and under the earth's surface. And so we thought we might as well try and help, and we started looking for aluminum, titanium, steel, copper, nickel, chromium, iron, all of the elements that make up a Boeing triple-7.
And we looked north of Malaysia and then northwest. We started our search on March the 12th. And we've found what we believe to be the wreckage of an aircraft.
LEMON: What's been the response from searchers and from other folks who are looking for this plane?
POPE: Well, silence up until yesterday. We sent our initial report four weeks ago on March 31 to Malaysian authorities, Chinese authorities and Australian authorities a few days later, and then a final report, which was a 23-page scientific document, we sent out on the 15th of April to all of those same authorities, and we heard nothing.
We didn't want to go public at all. The last thing we wanted to do was create any publicity. But we had to give the authorities a nudge, because we felt we had a moral obligation to have our findings investigated.
LEMON: Let me ask you this. Malaysian authorities say that they are working with searchers to access -- to assess, I should say, the credibility of your information. Australian searchers have dismissed the claim. They believe that the plane is in the Southern Indian Ocean, as you know, not in the Bay of Bengal. Do you think that the plane is -- is not in the Southern Indian Ocean?
POPE: Well, it very well could be in the Southern Indian Ocean, but it's bit of a 50/50 bet that the satellite data, the pings from the Rolls Royce engines, could have been going up northern corridor or the southern corridor. And it as it stands, it could be -- that corridor goes directly over our coordinates.
Could be either, or. And the Australians very well could be right. And -- but at least the Malaysian government now are talking to us. And we've spoken Malaysian search and rescue, and we did a full technical presentation for them late yesterday afternoon, and we're very, very appreciative.
LEMON: What would you like to see happen next?
POPE: Well, ideally, they're simply moving it up the chain of command in Malaysia. And, you know, it would be up to the Indians or the Bangladeshians, depending on whose water it is, 190 kilometers off the southern coast of Bangladesh, if somebody sent out a ship with a sonar capable of looking for our wreckage.
LEMON: David Pope, we appreciate you taking the time. Thank you.
POPE: Thanks very much, Don. Good speaking with you.
LEMON: You, as well.
Up next, my experts weigh in. Should the search move to the Bay of Bengal? They'll weigh in.
LEMON: Welcome back, everyone. You heard the CEO of Geo Resonance just a few minutes ago. This from (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He thinks searches should take a look in the Bay of Bengal.
I want to bring in now my aviation expert, Jeff Wise, the author of "Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind and Danger"; Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general of the Department of Transportation. She's now an aviation attorney for victims of transportation accidents. Les Abend, aviation analyst and triple-7 pilot; and Geoffrey Thomas, editor in chief of AirlineRatings.com.
I haven't said all of your names in so long all together, I was beginning to have withdrawal. Now the band is back together.
So, Geoffrey, you know you just heard David Pope from Geo Resonance. They claim to have what appears to be the wreckage of a plane. How are searchers in Perth reacting to this information?
GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR IN CHIEF, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: Look, off the record, the assessment is it's technology. However, my understanding is that the wreckage is about 700 miles (AUDIO GAP)...
LEMON: We appear to be having trouble, obviously, with -- he's in Perth, Australia, and those things happen. So what do you think the reaction is? Do you think searchers are taking this seriously, at least the Australians, Mary?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I think they do. Because not only did they release their data first to the authorities, and then they did another set of releases, but they also released their calculations. You know, like you remember in school, they said, show you work. Well, they've really shown everyone what they did and why they think this is so, and it sounds reasonable.
And we haven't gotten what we were looking for with the Inmarsat data. So I think, given what they've put forth and what they've explained, I think they have to go take a look.
LEMON: They have to go take a look, you think, Geoffrey?
SCHIAVO: I do.
THOMAS: Look. Certainly have a look. But the problem is, I think -- I know you lost me a little bit there. But the particular location is about 5, 600 miles to the west of the northern arc.
Also, don't forget, this area of the Bay of Bengal is where they break a lot of ships up. It's a center for breaking up ships of all sorts of -- there's all sorts of wreckage up there and it may be that they simply detected some of that. So...
LEMON: The type of, you know, equipment that they're talking about, resin and all of that, it could be from a ship. And that's a very good point.
Jeff Wise, for some time you have been insisting that the Australians are searching in the -- they're not searching in the right area. And are you more confident right now that the plane isn't where they think it might be? JEFF WISE, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I mean what I would try to say is there's a very low probability that where they're looking is right. And I think they've been overconfident.
And, you know, there's been all this talk about this thing is in the north, you should be happy about it. And actually, I think what your guest said was actually inaccurate. This is not on the northern arc. It's on the path to the north. But the report, if you believe the Inmarsat data, which I do, then it shouldn't have crashed en route to the northern arc. It actually had to get to the northern arc.
LEMON: yes. I thought he said it wasn't near the northern arc.
WISE: No. He said it was plausible. He said it was in accord with the Inmarsat data, because it was on the route to the northern arc. Which is true, it was very near the -- it is near the route to the northern arc. But you have to actually get to the northern arc in order to conform with the Inmarsat data.
LEMON: Let's read out this tweet, and it says, "What is the likelihood that the plane would be intact, as a Geo Resonance image indicated, if it crashed." Because it seems to be in sort of a perfect formation there, right?
LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes. I mean my guess is just what I know about the 777 and what might have happened with the scenario we've been talking about. Not very likely. I don't hold a lot of solace in this.
No disrespect to Mr. Pope's technology -- I'm not familiar with it -- but I'm just looking at it from the stand point of when this was presented, why it wasn't really acknowledged.
You've got a team of experts from Boeing, from the NTSB, from the other accident investigation teams, from Rolls Royce, and he mistakenly said Rolls Royce pings. Mr. Pope really meant to say handshakes from the satellite. So there's a little discrepancy with some things.
I'm very much -- what Jeff Thomas said, I very much appreciate the fact that it could be, actually, a ship. And why wasn't this information looked at then? I think that investigative team with those experts minds would have said, "Listen, not so much."
LEMON: OK. Geoffrey Thomas, Suzan Myers asks this. She said, "Why not explore this new development? It's no more farfetched than the other search hypothesis in the past 45 days."
THOMAS: Well, look, absolutely if someone wants to go and have a look. But I mean, we keep getting back to the fact that this team of experts -- and we're talking about not just Malaysians. United States, United Kingdom, Australia, China, some of the best minds in the world working in satellite, technology folks, as well, who are absolutely convinced that the southern arc is the area, the impact zone where they're looking is the area.
I mean, certainly go and have a look if they like. But they say no. They say it's just not there.
LEMON: Mary, this audio, which was finally released by the Malaysians, in any way does it change the investigation or give us any hint as to what might have happened?
SCHIAVO: Well, actually it does, because it is so normal. And that very last line that he said, it was just as normal sounding. So whatever happened, happened after that. It must have happened very quickly. But I actually thought he sounded impatient, because he had asked twice before for his handoff, but he didn't. He sounded perfectly calm.
LEMON: OK. All right. Thank you very much, everybody.
And we come back with the top tweets of the day on the Sterling scandal.
LEMON: Donald Sterling's scandal has been a disaster for basketball, but it's also been a gold mind for tweeting celebrities. Here are just some of my favorite tweets of the day.
Comedy goddess Mindy Kaling says, "I am now declaring my intent to buy the Clippers. The uniforms will be the same but bedazzled," which might be exactly the marketing ploy that the team needs.
And Rick Ross, he gives NBA commissioner Adam Silver high praise, quoting his 2008 hit and calling him a "Boss."
And Questlove takes a break from Jimmy Fallon's "Tonight Show" to tweet, "We have not watched anything as a group like this since the O.J. verdict."
My favorite one today came from someone who's not a celebrity, Adam McCollum. He said, "NBA, no bigots allowed." I agree. Keep tweeting us your comments. We'll have the best of them tomorrow night, as well.
That's it for me. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for watching. "AC 360" starts right now.