Moments before NBA commissioner Adam Silver imposed a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine to Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was caught on tape making racist remarks, Fox News reported that Sterling said that he will not sell his basketball team.
"I just spoke with Donald Sterling on the telephone just moments ago," Fox News Contributor Jim Gray reported. "He is unaware of what is going to happen to him. He has not been notified [of his impending punishment by Silver]. He also said he really didn't want to comment on the record, however the team is not for sale and he will not be selling the team."
During his press conference, held in New York City on Tuesday, Silver pledged to work with the NBA's owners to force Sterling to sell.
“I will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force the sale of the team,” Silver said. “I will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens."
A three-quarters majority vote of the league's owners is required to force out Sterling. Prior to Tuesday's press conference, at least 16 NBA owners had issued public statements against Sterling. Other organizations that had remained silent before Tuesday -- including the Jazz, Magic, Bulls, Celtics, Knicks, Bucks, Timberwolves, Thunder and Raptors -- issued statements of support for Silver following the press conference.
"I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners," Silver said.
Representatives of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) said at a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday that while they are pleased with Silver's decision, they still believe Sterling must be removed as Clippers owner.
"We want maximum allowable punishment under the bylaws and constitution and what that equates to for us as players, there must be a change in ownership," said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is acting as an adviser for the NBPA.
"As players, we're very happy with the decision, but we're not content yet," NBPA vice president Roger Mason Jr. said. "We want immediate action. We want a timetable from the owners on when this vote is going to happen. We feel confident that with Adam Silver's urging, and we've heard from a lot of the owners around the league, we think this is something that can be handled quickly."
The Clippers' organization, independent of Sterling, issued a statement on Tuesday applauding Silver's decision.
“We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today," the statement read. "Now the healing process begins.”
Sterling, who is the NBA's longest-tenured owner, bought the Clippers in 1981 for a reported $12.5 million. Forbes recently valued the franchise at $575 million, however the recent sale of the Bucks for $550 million would seem to indicate the Clippers are worth significantly more than that figure.
TMZ released audio Friday of a conversation in which Sterling can be heard scolding V. Stiviano, his girlfriend, for bringing African-Americans to Clippers games and for posting photos of herself and African-Americans, including Lakers legend Magic Johnson, to her Instagram account.
Silver said the NBA was able to authenticate that it was Sterling’s voice on the tape and that Sterling acknowledged that it was his voice during the investigation.
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