Parsons will try to bring stability and leadership to an organization reeling from the lifetime ban of its owner, Donald Sterling, after an audio tape of him making racist remarks was leaked to TMZ. Earlier this week, Clippers President Andy Roeser took a leave of absence.
In tapping Parsons, 66, the NBA gets a savvy and well-connected executive who is no stranger to the inner circles of media, finance and politics. Known for both his diplomatic skills and business sense, the NBA is betting Parsons can guide the franchise through what will probably be a rocky path to new leadership.
A quintessential New Yorker, Parsons has a long resume beyond Time Warner including a recent stint as chairman of Citigroup. He started his career in politics as an aide to Nelson Rockefeller when he was governor of New York and Gerald Ford's vice president. He also was chairman and chief executive of Dime Bancorp, Inc.
This is not the first time Parsons will be charged with cleaning up someone else's mess. He succeeded Gerald Levin as chief executive of Time Warner a few years after the media giant's disastrous merger with America Online.
While Parsons was on board with the deal, melding the two distinct cultures of old and new media proved too much for Levin and AOL Founder Steve Case, and the stock as well as morale at the company sank.
Parsons joined Time Warner as president in 1995 and took over as chief executive in 2002. When he succeeded Levin he gradually began to exorcise the AOL presence from the company. His firm hand was seen as key to reviving the stature of Time Warner and creating a more disciplined company. He also moved to reduce the infighting that was common between the AOL and Time Warner camps.
He also set in motion the rise of Jeff Bewkes, the former HBO chief who succeeded him at the top of Time Warner in 2008.
Parsons is also trying his hand at the restaurant business. He is a partner in Cecil, a new restaurant in Harlem that the New York Times said has dishes that are on the “ verge on monumental,” including a Gumbo with a “pleasingly sour undertow of dried shrimp.”