Over the weekend, a recording surfaced of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist comments about African Americans. Since then, the NBA, its players, coaches, owners, and fans have called on new commissioner Adam Silver to punish Sterling.
In a news conference this afternoon, Silver announced Sterling’s punishment: A lifetime ban and a $2.5 million dollar fine.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver said. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.”
Effectively immediately, Sterling cannot attend NBA games or practices and is barred from making any business decisions involving the team. The fine will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and the Players Association.
Silver added that he would encourage the NBA’s board of governors to force Sterling to sell the Clippers.
Under the league constitution, the owners can terminate another owner's franchise with a vote of three-fourths of the NBA Board of Governors, which is composed of all 30 owners.
Sterling, 80, bought the Clippers in 1981.
Silver’s action came after a speedy investigation by the NBA that included an interview between Sterling and the commissioner.
Sterling’s comments first surfaced on Saturday when an audio recording of a conversation between he and a female friend was released online. On the recording, Sterling said he disapproved of the woman sharing photos of herself with people of color on Instagram. Sterling was specifically displeased with the woman’s photos with Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.
"Why are you taking pictures with minorities, why?" asked Sterling, who admitted to Silver that he made the comments. "Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to promote, broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?"
Silver was unwavering in his disgust for Sterling’s comments.
“I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations and caused current and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league,” the commissioner said.
“To them, and pioneers of the game like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, Sweetwater Clifton, the great Bill Russell, and particularly Magic Johnson, I apologize.”
After the announcement of Sterling’s ban, the Clippers' official website featured a black page with the words “We Are One.” It’s another statement of solidarity by the team. Before Sunday’s first round playoff game against the Golden State Warriors, the team wore their warm-up shirts inside out and donned black wristbands and socks.
The Clippers host the Warriors at the Staples Center tonight for game five.
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