NBA Commissioner Bans Donald Sterling for Life

WI Web Staff | 4/29/2014, 2:20 p.m. | Updated on 4/29/2014, 7:35 p.m.
The NBA has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for racist comments, league commissioner Adam Silver announced ...
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks during a press conference at league headquarters in New York on April 29. (Courtesy of nba.com)

The NBA has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for racist comments, league commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday.

Sterling, 80, was also fined $2.5 million, the maximum fine allowable by the league, Silver said during a press conference at NBA headquarters in New York.

The ban would prohibit Sterling from games, practices and team facilities.

Silver also called on the board of governors to force Sterling to sell the team. The approval of three-quarters of the other 29 owners is needed to force a sale.

"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA. ... "This league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach and any one player."

The recordings that have been released were made last September, a source told ESPN.

Sterling was caught on an audio recording obtained by TMZ, chiding his girlfriend for associating with blacks, particularly NBA legend Magic Johnson, after the woman posted a photo online of herself with Johnson.

A longer version of the recording with even stronger language surfaced Sunday, with Sterling comparing blacks to dogs.

Sterling admitted it is his voice on the recordings, Silver said.

The woman on the recording cooperated with the NBA, as did a third person who was in the room when the tape was made, ESPN reported.

Silver's actions were immediately heralded around the NBA and beyond. LeBron James, who said after the tapes surfaced that there is "no room" in the league for Sterling, tweeted his approval of the punishment shortly after the announcement: "Commissioner Silver thank you for protecting our beautiful and powerful league!! Great leader!! #BiggerThanBasketball #StriveForGreatness"

Johnson, who has outspoken in calling for Sterling's removal, tweeted, "Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life. ... Now let's hope that the other 29 owners do the right thing."

Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis issued a statement through his Monumental Sports & Entertainment group:

"Monumental Sports & Entertainment has a diverse ownership group, and we respect and value that diversity. Our group applauds the swift, strict actions and recommendations set forth today by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Commissioner Silver is taking a strong stance, but all of us need to play a role as we strive to eliminate discrimination and intolerance."

A group of civil rights leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network; National Urban League President Marc H. Morial; NAACP interim President Lorraine C. Miller; and Melanie Campbell, President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable, lauded Silver's "courageous" decision and expressed desire to meet with the commissioner to discuss furthering diversity in the NBA.

"Sterling’s long-established pattern of bigotry and racist comments have not been a secret in the NBA," the leaders said in a joint statement. "Yet until now, they have been tolerated and met with a gentle hand and a blind eye. We stand strong in our support of Commissioner Silver’s immediate actions."