NEW YORK — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issued the following opinion today regarding the domestic violence incident involving Jeffery Taylor of the Charlotte Hornets:
Domestic violence is a serious societal issue that is antithetical to any community or organization that prides itself on the values of respect for others, good moral character, and common decency. These values are central to the NBA, and domestic violence is an issue that is commanding our full attention.
I have the responsibility to safeguard the best interests of the league and all of its constituents. ln addition to its profound impact on victims, domestic violence committed by any member of the NBA family causes damage to the league and undermines the public’s confidence in it.
It is against this backdrop that I issue this opinion. ln the early morning of September 25, 2014, Jeffery Taylor of the Charlotte Hornets was arrested in East Lansing, Michigan after an altercation at a local Marriott hotel with a woman with whom he was having a romantic relationship. Mr. Taylor was charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic violence assault, one count of misdemeanor assault on a hotel security officer, and one count of malicious destruction of hotel property.
The NBA immediately commenced its own independent investigation into the incident. The NBA retained David Anders of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen &Katz and Martha Stolley of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to handle this matter. Both Mr. Anders and Ms. Stolley are former prosecutors, and Ms. Stolley has substantial prior experience handling domestic violence cases.
Over the course of several weeks, these investigators conducted numerous interviews (including separate interviews of Mr. Taylor and the woman involved in this matter) and reviewed various materials in order to determine the facts. During this period, by agreement of all parties, Mr. Taylor was on a paid leave of absence from the Hornets.
Based on the NBA’s investigation, the following summary of facts is undisputed. After a night of heavy drinking on September 24, 2014, Mr. Taylor and the woman had an intense and high-volume argument that began in the hotel room where Mr. Taylor was staying, prompting hotel guests to call Marriott security. The argument escalated and resulted in Mr. Taylor shoving the woman in a violent manner into the hotel hallway so that she fell to the ground and struck her head on the opposite door, slapping her arm, and punching a hole in a wall near his hotel room. She had marks on her upper arm and a bump on her head but declined medical treatment.
Shortly thereafter, when Mr. Taylor was arrested by East Lansing police officers, he was belligerent and uncooperative.
On October 29, 2014, Mr. Taylor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence assault and malicious destruction of hotel property; the remaining assault charge with respect to the security officer was dismissed. Mr. Taylor was sentenced to 18 months of probation. As part of his probation, Mr. Taylor must complete 26 weeks in a domestic violence intervention program. Mr. Taylor also must enter an outpatient alcohol treatment program and perform alcohol sensor tests daily for 60 days, after which he will be subject to random testing by the Probation Department. Finally, Mr. Taylor must perform 80 hours of community service. lf Mr. Taylor successfully meets these and other conditions of his probation, his domestic violence assault charge will be dismissed.
ln the course of the NBA’s review of this matter, I received guidance from a group of domestic violence experts: Ted Bunch, Co-Founder of A Call To Men; Linda Fairstein, former Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office; and Kalimah Johnson, Founder of SASHA Center, a Detroit-based healing and awareness center focusing on sexual assault. I also involved an internal group that focuses on education and counseling of players, including Kathy Behrens, the NBA’s Executive Vice President for Social Responsibility & Player Programs; Greg Taylor, the NBA’s Senior Vice President of Player Development; and Chrysa Chin, the NBA’s Vice President for Player Development; as well as Eric Hutcherson, the NBA’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources.
Based on all the facts and circumstances of this matter, I hereby suspend Mr. Taylor without pay for a period of 24 regular season games. Because Mr. Taylor has been on paid leave from the Hornets since the starl of the regular season and has therefore already missed 11 games as of the date of this decision, he will be required to miss an additional 13 games, but will suffer a financial penalty equal to 24 games. This suspension is necessary to protect the interests of the NBA and the public’s confidence in it. Mr. Taylor’s conduct violates applicable law and, in my opinion, does not conform to standards of morality and is prejudicial and detrimental to the NBA. While the suspension is significantly longer than prior suspensions for incidents of domestic violence by NBA players, it is appropriate in light of Mr. Taylor’s conduct, the need to deter similar conduct going forward, and the evolving social consensus — with which we fully concur — that professional sports leagues like the NBA must respond to such incidents in a more rigorous way.
Because education and training is just as important as the imposition of discipline, Mr. Taylor must also satisfactorily complete the terms of his sentence, including the domestic violence intervention program, alcohol counseling, and community service (which we recommend be directed toward efforts to help victims of domestic violence). ln addition, he will be required to attend individual counseling sessions with a counselor jointly selected by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. lf Mr. Taylor fails to comply with any of these conditions, I reserve the right to revisit this matter.
The NBA is committed to vigilance with respect to domestic violence. We will continue to work closely with the Players Association to provide education, awareness training, and appropriate resources to NBA players and their families. We recognize our responsibility to do all that we can to prevent this destructive and unacceptable conduct from happening in the future.