TrueHoop: Dick Parson
May, 9, 2014
By Ramona Shelburne
Former Citigroup Chairman Dick Parsons is the new CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers. Parsons brings with him a diverse biography. He played college basketball at the University of Hawaii, was president of Time Warner during some of the company's most pivotal moments, served as chairman of Citigroup on the heels of the company's large bailout by the Federal Reserve and revived one of Harlem's most storied jazz clubs.
On Friday, he spoke to ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne about assuming the helm with the Clippers:
Q: When did this process start?
A: It started this past Monday. I got a call to come visit the commissioner, who I've gotten to know over the years, and he asked me to consider this.
Q: Why did you accept the position?
A: [Commissioner Adam Silver] is a good man and he's trying to do the right thing and he said he can use some help.
Q: When will you be to L.A. and how long will you stay?
A: I'll be out there Sunday night. I'll probably be back and forth. I'm sure I'll be out there at least once a week. But I'm not planning to move to L.A.
Q: What is Job 1 when you get to town?
A: Job 1 has already been done: to talk to Doc Rivers, tell him where I'm coming from, ask about his needs and perceptions and have him give some messages to the team. You don't want to land and become a distraction. They're in the middle of a playoff run.
Job 2 is to meet with the other employees who have been sitting at ground zero for 10 days. Nobody's reached out to them, they don't know which end is up. Just kind of give them a sense that what they've done has been appreciated, is appreciated, they've shown some character and kept this thing afloat and moving in the right direction. I want to hear from them what they think needs to happen to help steady the ship and keep it on the course that it's been of late.
Q: Who do you report to? Adam Silver or Shelly Sterling?
A: It's an interesting question. The commission I have from the NBA is to be the interim CEO of the team, and to also be the proxy owner for all things except with respect to the sale or alienation of the team. So to some extent, the management half of me will be reporting to the owner proxy half of me.
Q: So if we get to July and free-agent decisions must be made, you're the owner who gives the yes or no?
Q: What has been your relationship to and communication with Shelly Sterling?
A: I have not spoken to her, but obviously I'd plan at some point in time to reach out to her. Obviously she's a big fan of the team, she has an ownership interest, she has not been banned from anything. So our style is to try and work cooperatively, collaboratively and collegially with all the stakeholders. All the stakeholders who haven't been banned.
Here's what I spoke to Doc about, when he went out there, as he put it to me, one of the factors that was that the then-management said, "We don't know that much about basketball. You come, you run the basketball operations, we'll run the business." So that's where I am in my head about it. It's still going to be a partnership. But at the end of the day, somebody is going to have to sign off all these decisions and that'll be me, because I'll be the CEO. But I plan to make [Rivers] a full-fledged partner in this.
I said this to Doc explicitly, "I haven't the foggiest idea of what to do in the draft." I'm going to be looking to him to figure that out, and we'll work on this as partners.
Q: How long are you expecting this arrangement to last?
A: It's interim and my hope would be that it's months. How many, I can't say. Because the longer this thing stays unresolved ... this is not a pleasant story. We've got to get this behind us. But I can't say anymore than anybody else can say how long it's going to take. We'll just have to wait and see. But from my perspective, I'm clearly thinking of it and approaching it and have been asked to approach it as an interim CEO/proxy owner until we get through the transition.
Q: Because of the history with the league and the Clippers, if we get into another situation like the Chris Paul trade, do you have to run that final approval through Adam Silver?
A: No. Remember, in the New Orleans situation, the NBA actually owned the team. They bought the team, right? This is different. So the answer to your question is no.