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Sterling Banned; Everest Avalanche; Artist Overcomes Type 1 Diabetes; L.A. Clippers Owner Gets Lifetime Ban

Aired April 30, 2014 - 08:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Sterling will accept that and what happens if he doesn't. So let's discuss. Rachel Nichols, host of CNN's "Unguarded," is with us.

First question. Certainly widely received positively what the commissioner did. Did he have to do this? Do you think he could have done anything less than this?

RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST, CNN'S "UNGUARDED": Well, sure, he could have. We've certainly seen people do less when put under the gun. But there was a pretty big anvil over his head that really didn't quite come out until later in the evening. Several of the players on the playoff teams last night said they would have boycotted the games if Silver had not come out and made this strong a statement, if he hadn't banned Sterling for life, if he hadn't promoted the idea of getting him out of the game.

The Golden State Warriors said that they would have gone to the tip- off of their game with the Clippers. They would have done the jump ball and just let the ball fall to the ground and then walked off the court, all 15 players together. They asked the Clippers to join them in that. And they also made contact with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, with John Wall in Washington, D.C., and asked those guys to boycott their games. So the NBA would have had a disaster on their hands the entire time. And now, of course, they've avoided that.

CUOMO: Could, of course, argue that would have been exactly the wrong reason to make the decision, to cave to that kind of player pressure. But the question becomes then, why is this the right decision? Why do you think this became such a flash point for people in the league?

NICHOLS: Well, I think it made a statement. This is a zero tolerance issue. And there are people who are having debates now. Donald Sterling, he said this in private versus public, is what he said enough. It doesn't matter. It's zero tolerance. This is just not acceptable in this league or really anywhere else. It sets an example for other sports leagues, sets an example for kids out there. Maybe you hear your parents using this kind of language. Maybe you hear other people in your community. Guess what? It's not OK.

It also tells kids who are children of color saying, we respect you enough to say this is not OK. You are important. You can go anywhere you want. You can be with anyone you want. This is what matters to us.

CUOMO: The pushback that, well, they've had other problems in the league and they haven't been this harsh. You know, well, first of all, this is a new commissioner. But is there a relativism here or do you think that this is something much bigger than dealing with even someone who, you know, is violent in a game or is violent off the court?

NICHOLS: Well, I'm never going to complain about progress, right? So if things haven't gone well or they haven't been punished harshly enough in the past and we actually get it right this time, I'm not going to be upset about that. The issue now is, how much further are they going to go? They do need this three-quarters vote league from the board of governors, all the other owners of all the other teams. And I thought what Adam Silver did the other night - did yesterday was such a power move. He came out he did the most he could have done under his powers, he banned him from any operations with the team, he levied the $2.5 million fine.

But then he threw it on the other owners in public. And this is the key, Chris. A lot of other commissioners would have done consensus building beforehand, would have polled those other owners. I asked Adam Silver in the press conference, do you know you have the votes? And he said, I haven't talked to everybody yet, because he wanted to make it a public decision. He wanted to put all of those other owners on the spot in public.

CUOMO: How does an owner not vote yes?

NICHOLS: Well, the day before, we saw Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban say, I don't know about this. It's a slippery slope, he said. What if somebody says something in private, what if somebody makes statements, all of a sudden you can take their team away. Remember, these are hundreds and hundreds of million dollar assets. This is most of these businessmen's primary identity at this point. And now Commissioner Silver basically has the power to point and say, you, I'm taking your team away. And there are owners who are concerned about that. But by making it public, by laying the challenge out there publicly, even owners like Mark Cuban, who may be concerned about the precedent it sets, feel, well, I can't side with Sterling, I can't publicly come out and be on the wrong side of history here. So, privately, if he had tried to consensus build early, I don't know if he would have gotten the votes. But now, because he just came out and laid it all out there, now those owners are under a lot of pressure. They're under pressure from the fans. They're under pressure from their own players.

CUOMO: The key will be timing. You'll know, if it goes longer, you know that there are people who are trying to wait for it to cool down and see if they can step sideways.

NICHOLS: Well, and Donald Sterling is going to make some phone calls in the next few days.

CUOMO: Yes. He's got to give an interview.

NICHOLS: He's got a lot of old friends.

CUOMO: He's got to give an interview, not because I'm in the media - NICHOLS: I was going -

CUOMO: But this is something that's all been against him. We have not heard from him. Thurl Bailey said it, I want to hear from Donald Sterling. I want to hear what's in his heart and why he did this. It's going to be important.

Rachel Nichols, thank you for being on top of it.

NICHOLS: Thank you.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

And, please, make sure to watch Rachel and her team with Turner Sports cover the rest of the NBA playoffs. Remember, the playoffs are going on. It's one of the best series I've seen in a long time. And when her show returns, watch "Unguarded with Rachel Nichols" Friday at 10:30 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up next on NEW DAY, tragedy on Mount Everest. A daredevil avoids an avalanche there, but he loses some of his teammates at the very same time. Climber Joby Ogwyn will be joining us live to tell his unbelievable story.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY.

Earlier this month, daredevil climber Joby Ogwyn was planning to attempt the first winged suit flight off the summit of Mount Everest to be featured in a live Discovery Channel television special. All that changed April 18th. An avalanche left 13 Sherpa guides dead, three others missing. Ogwyn was at the base camp on the mountain during that avalanche and decided to cancel his jump. Instead, this Sunday, Discovery Channel is going to broadcast a documentary, a very special event, "Everest Avalanche Tragedy." It's about the rescue and the recovery efforts that took place after that avalanche struck. The man we want to talk to is right here to talk about all of that.

Joby Ogwyn, really a delight to see you, unfortunate under these circumstances, but I want to talk to you about April 18th. You were in your tent on base camp. You saw the whole thing happen.

JOBY OGWYN, WING SUIT EXPLORER: I did. I did. It was a strange thing. I just kind of happened to be awake. It was real early in the morning, about 6:45. And I heard it. And it actually didn't sound like, you know, a really big avalanche. But I could tell it was from the general direction of the ice fall and I knew my guys and a lot of other guys were up there. So I just unzipped the tent. And when I did, I saw it come right over the top from camp one and cover up everybody that I saw.

PEREIRA: And, in fact, it covered up three of the Sherpas that you had been working with directly, correct?


PEREIRA: And it took their lives.

OGWYN: It did. We had three guys that were going to go to the summit with us for the live transmission on the Discovery Channel. And they were really great friends of mine. Guys I knew for a long time. And we lost all of them.

PEREIRA: And then you had to struggle with your decision, do you go on with this jump. Initially I understand there were reports that you initially wanted to press through and go on, but then you later changed your mind and said we're not doing this. Tell us about how that all came about and what you struggled with?

OGWYN: Well, at first I really wanted to try to keep my team together, what was left. I mean I was trying to show some leadership. So where there was a little bit of a lack of that at the time and I think some miscommunication and a little chaos. It just was a very chaotic scene (INAUDIBLE).

PEREIRA: Understandable.

OGWYN: And, you know, we just -- I wanted the Sherpas to have the time, you know, not just the guys that were left on my staff, but all of the Sherpa to have time to process a little bit of what happened.


OGWYN: But I think because the situation was so heavy and there was such a massive loss of life to everybody at base camp that very quickly it turned to, you know, we needed to pull out and let everybody try to start the healing process.

PEREIRA: And that's going to take some time. A lot of these men you talked to about this, they were the only breadwinners in their family. A very tight knit community.

OGWYN: Yes. They were. That's why I wanted to try to give them the choice of whether or not to stay and continue on or to leave the expedition. I mean every year for the last decades people have died on Everest. That's why it is such a big deal if you're able to actually get to the top because it is a risky endeavor.

PEREIRA: It makes a lot of people question why do it if you're going to go up against that risk. A lot of us wonder that.

OGWYN: Well, you know, I think people like me that try to go there every year enjoy that challenge of overcoming those obstacles and that degree of risk is something that, you know, can be - I don't want to say enjoyable, but that challenge is definitely there.

PEREIRA: Now we know the Sherpas, for the most part, they're not going to do anymore expeditions. And essentially it's impossible without them. You support that, obviously? OGWYN: Yes.

PEREIRA: That decision.

OGWYN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I've been going to the Himalayas and Everest for 15 years and I have a great respect for the guys that I work with there. You -- like you said, we couldn't do anything without those guys. And it's really -- it's their mountain.

PEREIRA: But in terms of what's being done, there's been some controversy, a discussion about what's being done. The government support in helping those families. I know that there's been a foundation set up. Tell us a little bit about that, to help the Sherpa community.

OGWYN: Well, my mission changed drastically from, you know, jumping off the top. Immediately I wanted my mission to be helping the families of the guys that I lost and everybody lost there. And so I started working immediately with Discovery Channel to find a way to take care of their families with their children with their immediate needs and maybe their long-term needs, like education.

And we are working now with the Sherpa Family Fund, which is sort of a division of the American Himalayan Foundation, and we are - I've made it my mission to see how much money I can raise for these people and hopefully to give, especially their children, maybe some educational opportunities that they might not have had and make something positive out of it.

PEREIRA: They might not have had. Joby, that's incredible that you've dedicated some energy to that. Listen, also, I want to talk about this May 4th special because, again, it was to be this winged suit jump. Its changed its mission, as you mentioned. We're going to see more about this because you had a unique perspective. So this is the special. It airs on Discovery May 4th. You feel very passionate about this, don't you?

OGWYN: Well, I do. I'm obviously disappointed that I wasn't able to do my project. But the project changed to something. I think, in fact, it could be even more powerful. And it's a story that needed to be told. I feel lucky that I had my team there. That we were able to capture this. And I think it will be a tribute to these guys and it will show how passionate they are about climbing the mountain.

PEREIRA: You're not hanging up the wing suit, though, are you?



OGWYN: No, I'm not.

PEREIRA: No. No. So we'll expect to hear something about that in the coming while.

OGWYN: Yes. The mountain's not going anywhere. I can always go back and try again with more friends there.

PEREIRA: Joby, always a pleasure to see you.

OGWYN: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Sorry it's under these circumstances, but thanks for letting us know about this and hopefully some help can be brought to the people that need it most.

OGWYN: Thank you.

PEREIRA: All right. "Everest Avalanche Tragedy," it airs Sunday, May 4th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on The Discovery Channel. Kate, you'll want to tune in to that.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Let's turn now to this week's "Human Factor."

When a Texas painter, Natalie Irish, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she says everything changed, including the way she creates her art. Here is CNN's Sanjay Gupta.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For as long as she can remember, Natalie Irish has been passionate about art. But when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 18, even that become a struggle for her.

NATALIE IRISH, TYPE 1 DIABETIC: I can't keep my eyes open. I can't focus on my art classes.

GUPTA: Turns out her blood sugar was seven times higher than normal. Doctors were surprised she hadn't lapsed into a diabetic coma.

IRISH: Everything changed. My priorities, the way I ate, the way I lived my life, just starting from scratch.

GUPTA: Not long after, something else changed, too, her style of art.

IRISH: I put on my red lipstick and I blotted it on a piece of tissue and saw a lip print. And I was like, ah, I can paint with that.

GUPTA: That's right, she paints with her lips.

IRISH: This is just - this is just a different paint brush.

GUPTA: Natalie creates masterpieces. She says some of them sell for thousands of dollars. And she's using that attention to help raise awareness about Type 1 diabetes. She says her biggest message, fix the physical, but don't forget about the mental.

IRISH: Every day is going to be different. You're going to have good days and bad days. But it's not, you know, hell, it's not our fault.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


BOLDUAN: Also coming up on NEW DAY, Donald Sterling now facing a lifetime ban from the NBA, but it may not be over yet. Will he try to hold on to his team or will he be forced to sell the Clippers? Sports analyst Greg Anthony here to weigh in.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

One of the big stories today: the NBA banning L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fining him the max -- $2.5 million. Why? Well, his racist rants that you heard on a recording with his girlfriend. The question is will the league be able to force him to sell his team.

For some perspective on whether this is the right punishment and whether it will be fully effected is Greg Anthony, CNN political commentator, NBA analyst for Turner Sports. Mr. Anthony, a pleasure to have you. Do you like what you heard? Do you think it was right? Do you think it will happen in terms of forcing the sale?

GREG ANTHONY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would say yes to all of the above with one caveat in terms of the forced sale. That still -- there is a slippery slope there, but I think the process is put in place.

The real issue is not whether or not the league would like to have Donald Sterling sell the team and have him removed from having any connection with the NBA. The other issue is the precedent it might set, not from a racial standpoint, but from an owner's perspective of, OK, what other grounds potentially could one be forced to have to sell their team? I think that's a big concern for the owners in the league right now as this process continues to move forward.

So we'll kind of have to wait to see how that part plays out and also see if Donald Sterling at this stage of his life and with all of the bad PR he's received is even willing to go down that road, if you will, in terms of putting up the fight that will be necessary to allow him to remain included in the NBA.

CUOMO: He has said so far the team is not for sale. But we haven't heard from him. He hasn't given an interview. We don't know what happens next. The contract, the bylaws among the owners is vague. It says that they can have this vote three-quarters based on violating what matters to the team and the bylaws themselves. So it's vague. It's open. This would be precedent though.

However, if you're an owner and you say, I don't know about this, I say you're a racist. If you don't vote to have this man sell his team, you, Greg Anthony, are a racist. Do you think the owners are worried about that?

ANTHONY: You know -- listen you're going to have people saying that but again, I think this goes beyond that. And that's the point I'm making. It's about the precedent -- it's not the action that was taken by Donald Sterling. They're all in agreement, I would assume especially with how strongly the statement was from Commissioner Adam Silver. The question is not about what they feel about him. It's whether or not they feel that legally they can go down that road. And then there's also the --


CUOMO: They can do it legally. They can do it legally.

ANTHONY: No, no, no, not that. What I'm saying to you is they don't necessarily want to set a precedent in the future that would allow for some of their actions to then cause them to have to lose control of their team. That's the issue.

It's not about Donald Sterling. It's about the precedent that could potentially be set if they were to force him out based on -- because again, there is no specifics in their bylaws about being able to take a man's team, in essence, because of his racial views that were recorded in a private conversation that was also recorded illegally.

CUOMO: Right. So you --

ANTHONY: So that's -- it is a concern for them moving forward because, again, that's the one problem with a lot of things that happen in our society, we don't focus on after the fact how that's going to then relate to moving forward and what could or could not be accomplished. That's a huge concern from the league's perspective.

Listen, if I owned a team I would be -- as a black man if I owned a team, I would be concerned about that action moving forward because again, think about the context in which this man is ultimately going to lose his team? No one doubts his bigotry or racism. I was abhorred and I'm sure most were. But the fact that he had a recorded conversation that was taped illegally in essence has caused all of this to transpire.

And so that's the concern, Chris. Think of it from that perspective. Forget Donald Sterling, just the fact that something had to happen illegally to bring this to light. And that's where people in terms of their rights to privacy are going to be concerned. And look, there are a lot of concerns about that not representative of Donald Sterling, but the action that was taken to finally bring all this stuff to light.

CUOMO: True. I think you lay it out all perfectly. One comma -- the comma would be the league didn't set him up. We don't have any reason to believe that that happened.


CUOMO: This just happened through whatever drama was going on in his life. But I think you lay out the issues and it is going to be sensitive because for owners to push back on this, they're going to have to be very concerned about how that is portrayed.

ANTHONY: Hey, Chris, real quickly -- CUOMO: Yes.

ANTHONY: Think of -- again I go back the precedent that was set by this young lady. How fearful will most people be now in public that they can have a conversation -- look at the assistant coach that was fired by the Golden State Warriors who would leave his cell phones and record conversations by players and coaches and the like. That's damning, it's frightening as well.

All of us have said some things over the course of our private lives that might not be socially acceptable and how scary would that be if that now becomes a part of the social discussion?

CUOMO: It's part of the new world. That's for sure. Everybody hears everything. I've said things that are socially unacceptable on camera. I've got no discretion at all.

Greg Anthony, thank you very much for the perspective. Appreciate having you on as always -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a message from above or was it something else? A little boy is kidnapped and you won't believe what he did to escape, a very scary story that becomes "The Good Stuff" coming up.


CUOMO: Our quick "Good Stuff" for you. Every praise belongs to 10- year-old Willie Myrick and that song. Here's why. Willie was snatched from his own driveway by a man who threw him into a car. But Willie was released miles away and hours later unharmed. Why? Not because the guy was a good guy but because for every one of those hours Willie sang "Every Praise" until the kidnapper just couldn't take it anymore.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eventually you start singing, and he stopped the car. What did he do when the car stopped?

WILIE MYRICK: He threw me out. (Inaudible)


CUOMO: And his church weren't the only people who noticed Willie's bravery.


HEZEKIAH WALKER, GOSPEL MUSICIAN: You know, it's really emotional for me because you never know who you're going to touch. I just want to hug him. I just want to tell him I love him.


CUOMO: That's Hezekiah Walker, he wrote "Every Praise". He visited Willie personally on his 10th birthday to sing him the song that probably saved his life. And I'll tell you as an artist, it's all about impact and imagine that he might have done something, not just influence this kid, but influenced a man who was up to no good.

And that is the suspect right there, kidnapper still at large. Police are hoping the sketch and you will help lead to the arrest.

BOLDUAN: Amazing how a terrifying situation became something so amazing by a little.


CUOMO: Happy ending. Thank God for that.

All right. A lot of news this morning for you. Let's get you to the "NEWSROOM" and Miss Carol Costello. Every praise to you -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you I appreciate it. Have a great day.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.