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Clippers owner Donald Sterling banned for life by the NBA

NEW YORK (AP) -- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered the swiftest, strongest penalty he could, then called on NBA owners to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments that hurt the league.

Almost unanimously, owners supported the commissioner Tuesday, as he handed down one of the harshest penalties in the history of U.S. sports.

"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views. They simply have no place in the NBA," Silver said at a news conference.

Sterling, 80, is banned for life from any association with the league or the Clippers, and fined $2.5 million - the maximum allowable under the NBA constitution. If three-fourths of the other 29 owners agree to Silver's recommendation, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.

Lifetime Ban For Donald Sterling

A message left seeking comment at Sterling's business office hadn't been returned Tuesday afternoon. Team spokesman Seth Burton said in an email that the Clippers had no plans to issue a statement from Sterling on Tuesday.

Players and others cheered Silver's quick action, with union officials saying that if the league's punishment hadn't included a mandate for Sterling to sell the team, players were considering boycotting playoff games, including Tuesday's Golden State Warriors-Clippers matchup, the team's first home game since the scandal erupted.

"We wanted to be a part of this decision, and we wanted Adam Silver to know where we stood. And we were very clear that anything other than Sterling selling his team was not going to be enough for us," said Roger Mason Jr., the first vice president of the players' union.

Sterling's comments - which were recorded by his girlfriend and released by TMZ on Saturday - harmed the league, Silver said. Sponsors were threatening to abandon the NBA, and criticism was coming from fans on social media and even the White House.

Sterling criticized V. Stiviano - purportedly the female voice on the tapes - for posting pictures of her with black athletes Magic Johnson and Matt Kemp.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling asks the woman on the tape.

"Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multiethnic league," Silver said.

The NBA's longest-tenured owner keeps his team for now - and Silver said he didn't know if Sterling would fight to do so permanently.

But he can't attend games or practices, can't be involved in any personnel decisions or participate in board of governors meetings.

Just three days after the scandal broke, and hours before the Clippers hosted their biggest game of the season, Silver apologized to some of the league's black pioneers while meting out a punishment he believed would satisfy outraged players and fans.

Silver said the ban applied only to Sterling and there had been no discussions about whether he could sell to a family member.

Many owners supported Silver, and none of them publicly defended Sterling.

"We applaud the firm punishment handed out today by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and appreciate the swiftness with which the NBA conducted its investigation," Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said in a statement.

The fine will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts, Silver said.

Sterling, with an estimated net worth of about $2 billion, did not comment, though Silver said he did not apologize for his remarks. Silver said Sterling confirmed that he was the person on the audiotapes.

Silver hasn't even been on the job three months and already had to face a crisis that threatened the league not only financially - with several companies ending or suspending their sponsorships of the Clippers - but more importantly, socially.

The NBA survived the Indiana Pacers' brawl with Detroit Pistons fans, and referee Tim Donaghy betting on games he officiated. But this brought a different level of outrage, particularly because the league could have done something sooner about Sterling, who has faced federal charges of civil rights violations and racial discrimination in his business dealings.

"This has all happened in three days, and so I am hopeful there will be no long-term damage to the league and to the Clippers organization," Silver said. "But as I said earlier, I'm outraged so I certainly understand other people's outrage."

After the announcement, the Clippers' website had a simple message: "We are one."

"We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins," the Clippers added in a statement.

Sterling's Clippers have been one of the most incompetent franchises in pro sports, and would have been home by now in most of their seasons. But this team is a title contender led by Doc Rivers, a black coach whom Sterling brought from Boston and paid $7 million a year.

Rivers canceled practice Monday and declined a meeting request from Sterling. He wouldn't address whether he would return next season if Sterling were still in control.

That might not be an issue if the owners vote to oust the owner.

Sterling is estranged from his wife and had been dating Stiviano, 31. In court documents, Stiviano describes him as a man "with a big toothy grin brandishing his sexual prowess in the faces of the Paparazzi and caring less what anyone else thought, the least of which, his own wife."

Silver said when he first heard the audio, he hoped it had been altered or was fake, but thought it was Sterling. And it doesn't matter if Sterling didn't realize he was being recorded, Silver said.

"Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they're now public, and they represent his views."

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about ourPRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Join the discussion

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jhrooney April 29 2014 at 2:40 PM

Silvermann cannot force him to sell without buying the franchise.

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12 replies
ML April 29 2014 at 2:42 PM

and 2.5 mil pocket change to Sterling

Flag Reply +4 rate up
3 replies
Big Daddy April 29 2014 at 2:44 PM

Sterling Silver are these guys writing a book?

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
ZbOROVAN Big Daddy April 30 2014 at 7:50 AM

No, but Oliver Stone is writing the screenplay. It's called: "CLIPPED."

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
Connie ZbOROVAN April 30 2014 at 12:00 PM

Funny!

Flag 0 rate up
miriamisrael1 ZbOROVAN April 30 2014 at 12:32 PM

I would rather if steven spielberg wrote the screen paly for it :-)

Flag 0 rate up
acowgurl Big Daddy April 30 2014 at 8:00 AM

Big Daddy - Coincidently, the gold digging ho is

Flag Reply +2 rate up
rrusrjr2 April 29 2014 at 2:46 PM

Is it legal to force him to sell? Other sports, other buffoon owners, have been forced to relinquish management control, but not ownership. Yes, he is said to have made vile statements, but it appears from this article that those statements have yet to be verified as spoken by Sterling.
Oh, well, maybe Magic can buy up the team at a great price, 'for the good of the game'.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
12 replies
Emmett D Bowers April 29 2014 at 2:46 PM

like big deal -- does it really matter to him..this man could care less about what he says or what people think of himm..with all his wealth -- big deal.......

Flag Reply +5 rate up
3 replies
fieldsendb April 29 2014 at 2:46 PM

Sure he is not competent to own a team...make him sell it. BUT people are not fined this much when they murder someone!!!!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
4 replies
cbassclef April 29 2014 at 2:46 PM

As a member of a National League you are bound by rules. This is the difference folks! They agree to the rules as owners, and if it hurts the league as a whole they can act accordingly. If Sterling doesn't like it, he can take his money and start his own!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
3 replies
ohogwash April 29 2014 at 2:47 PM

girl friend is history now

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
quixoticjak ohogwash April 30 2014 at 9:41 AM

Could be this will create and make her a "celebrity" for a while....she should make some money from it....

Flag Reply 0 rate up
3 replies
JEFFERSODA ohogwash April 30 2014 at 3:02 PM

Let's call her "Space Face."

Flag Reply 0 rate up
jolliffeee April 29 2014 at 2:49 PM

I wonder what's next. Who is going to sue who and so forth. What was said is reprehensible, but it was a private conversation, but it was Sterling's order that all his conversations be recorded. Can the person who made the recording public be made responsible? Is it free speech? I don't know but it seems we've not heard the last of this mess by a long shot.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
3 replies
zonahammer April 29 2014 at 2:49 PM

and by the way...now really..how much of a racist is this guy reall? I mean he was about to receive a LIFETIME Acheivment award from the NAACP , Los Angeles Chapter I believe on May 15th...I guess since they have recinded but kept his money for their pet projects for the black community.....I hate two faced people and groups!

Flag Reply +30 rate up
18 replies
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