(USA TODAY) New interim Los Angeles Clippers CEO Dick Parsons knows his first order of business in his role: He's going to meet the employees.
"They're entitled to that," Parsons told USA TODAY Sports on Friday, the day the NBA announced he would lead the team.
"They've been under a gun. Having been through something similar in the past, the opprobrium that has been directed toward the ownership of the team trickles down to the people who work there. ... We need to go put our arms around them and hear what they think should be done going forward."
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Parsons, a former Citigroup chairman and former chairman and CEO of Time Warner, had followed the Sterling situation, but helping wasn't on his radar until the NBA commissioner Adam Silver and league officials reached out to him earlier this week.
"When the commissioner put this to me, I said, 'Hey, I love basketball,' " Parsons said. "I don't like basketball. I love basketball. It represents all the best in teams sports, and character building and it's fun. I love basketball. I always have.
"B, here's a guy, Adam Silver, who got dealt a hot potato. He's a good man, and he is trying to do the right thing and trying to assert some values with which I personally and assiduously identify, and he can use some help."
Silver issued a statement late Friday afternoon. "I believe the hiring of Dick Parsons will bring extraordinary leadership and immediate stability to the Clippers organization," Silver said. "Dick's credentials as a proven chief executive speak for themselves and I am extremely grateful he accepted this responsibility."
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Parson said he has spoken with Clippers coach Doc Rivers, and Rivers will handle basketball decisions, including the draft and free agency.
"He said one of the reason he came out here was because the last guy said, 'You run the basketball side, I'll run the business side.' That's where I'm coming from," Parsons said. "I don't have any thoughts on the draft or player personnel. I told him, 'You run the basketball side. I'll run the business side and we'll get this done together.' "
Parsons also said Rivers thanked him for taking the role.
Silver banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million after racially insensitive statements made by Sterling were recorded and made public. The NBA is also trying to force Sterling to sell the team, a far more complex and extraordinary measure than a ban and fine.
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Within the past 10 days, the NBA announced it would search for an interim CEO, and team president Andy Roeser took an indefinite leave of absence.
"(Silver has) a team right now that is basically headless, and it's hurting the players, it's hurting the team, it's hurting the game, it's hurting the fans, it's hurting advertising and it's hurting, frankly, the league. It's blown up beyond that," Parsons said.
"I've known him a long time, but I've gotten to know him much better in the last few days. … It's an issue that's more important than the Clippers and even the NBA. … How we handle it in this country is going to be noted not just by people who live here but by people around the world. I'm happy to try and help."
He consulted with his wife, Laura Bush Parsons, before answering Silver. Parsons doesn't plan to live in the Los Angeles area but will be there often, he said.
"It's clear to me they need someone to head the team, stabilize the situation and think through what's in the best interest of staff, players, fans, the advertisers and manage it through … get it stabilized and keep it stabilized," Parsons said.
Parsons, who said he has no plans to stay with the team beyond the interim role, will step down from his position on Madison Square Garden Company's board of directors. MSG is the parent company of the New York Knicks.
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