NBA commissioner Adam Silver promised to provide a thorough and accurate judgment on allegations that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racist remarks in an audio recording obtained by TMZ.com.
Silver announced that Sterling will face a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine, the maximum amount allowed. There were few who questioned that the rhetoric in the audio was demeaning and racist. The only question that gained any traction was related to whether the voice on the tape was indeed Sterling's.
The NBA found that the voice was Sterling's and responded accordingly, enacting an immediate lifetime ban and removing Sterling from all Clippers and NBA activities. Silver also urged the board of governors to force a sale of them, and made clear he will do everything he can to ensure that happens.
"Accordingly, effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA," Silver said. "Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may not be pr
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In the audio, a voice believed to be Sterling's can be heard asking his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, who is of Hispanic and Black heritage, why she needed to consort with blacks and minorities in public. Included in the black people mentioned by Sterling were Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp.
Further audio revealed in the aftermath of the initial TMZ release proved more condemning for Sterling. In the extended audio, Sterling went back and forth with Stiviano about who she could and couldn't be seen with in public and spewed more racism.
The pressure was on Silver to react with a harsh penalty for Sterling, who has been noted as a racist on several occasions throughout his time as an NBA owner, which spans decades. Former Clippers players have communicated run-ins with Sterling, including former point guard Baron Davis.
Perhaps the biggest injustice linked to Sterling came away from the basketball court. The U.S. Department of Justice sued Sterling in 2003 for his refusal to rent apartments to black people and families with children. Sterling paid over $2.2 million to settle the case and avoid heading to a trial.
But it took for a basketball-related matter for Sterling be ushered out of NBA and stripped of his ownership seat. Silver acknowledged the toll this incident in particular had has on the NBA and its players, especially within the Clippers franchise.
"This has been a painful moment for all members of the NBA family," Silver said. "I appreciate the support and understandings of our players during this process. And I am particularly grateful for the leadership shown by coach Doc Rivers, union president Chris Paul and mayor Kevin Johnson."