PARSONS MEETS STAFF AND ADDRESSES MEDIA
Interim Clippers CEO Richard Parsons was introduced to the Los Angeles media on Monday afternoon as part of a lengthy press conference at Staples Center.
Parsons, who met with management and staff of the Clippers before addressing the media, spoke at length about the role he will play in helping the organization move forward after two weeks of changes in various leadership positions.
In his opening statement Parsons said, “The team right now finds itself without executive leadership, or the company, the business finds itself without executive leadership, and that's not something the NBA can tolerate, so they need someone to step in and take hold of this thing and be on an interim basis the leader and make sure that no value is lost, make sure that the enterprise continues to function in an appropriate way, perhaps even help it move to the next level, but certainly help it move through this period of transition.”
In addition to being hand-picked by the NBA to take on the role with the Clippers, Parsons is currently a senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners and sits on the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates. With the Clippers he will tasked with righting the ship, so to speak.
“My job is to be the CEO of the enterprise and to make sure the boat still floats, the boat is still headed in the right direction, and maybe even we pick up a little speed,” he said. “I'm only beginning to get my arms around what I'm going to do, but the first step was to come out here and to meet with the management and staff of the team. I've talked to Doc [Rivers], but I haven't yet met with the players.”
Later Monday on a conference call from Oklahoma City, where the Clippers are preparing for Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, Rivers talked about how he will interact with Parsons moving forward.
“He’s going to make a big difference,” Rivers said. “Obviously, he's just gotten in the door. Today is the first time he's been in L.A. He's going to make a big difference. For especially the folks downtown, they have lives and careers, and they want to know if they're safe, where do we go from here.
“For me, in the fact that we have Dick and he can do that, I can really just focus on the basketball part. That's really the only thing I'm qualified to do anyway. So I think it's really important getting someone in place and being able to calm the nerves and do their job and allow everybody else to do their jobs. I think that's really important. Getting Dick in is a huge step in the right direction I think for us.”
Parsons outlined what the next steps will be for the Clippers to start heading in a positive direction.
“The first step was to come and meet with the staff, meet with the management, get my arms around where we are today, and then start thinking about where we go from here. The next step is probably -- I'd love to sit with the players because to some extent, while everybody associated with the Clippers is at ground zero, they're at the center of ground zero. But again, their heads should be elsewhere. They shouldn't be thinking about, well, who's going to own the team down the road and how long is it going to take us to catch up with the current ownership. They should be thinking about how are we going to win this championship.”
Parsons, who began his distinguished legal career as a staff lawyer for New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, has served as chairman and CEO of Dime Bancorp and then Time Warner and most recently a chairman of Citigroup and an advisor to President Barack Obama’s economic advisory team. Although he is working with the Clippers on an interim basis, he does not view himself as a “caretaker.”
“I don't like the word,” Parsons said. “But having been a lawyer once in my career, when I was talking to Adam [Silver] about it, a word that I used was conservator, someone who an asset has been given to while there's a dispute over ownership, and the Court says, look, take care of this thing, make sure that the wheels don't fall off, and to the extent you can, move it ahead, enhance it, preserve what's there and put it on a path that when we finally resolve this question of ownership, whoever comes in as a new owner has something that's really viable and it's got some momentum. That's kind of how I see it.”