NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that he has banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and will ask the league's Board of Governors to force the sale of the team as a result of racist comments that have caused a firestorm. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the coming sanctions.
The league also announced that it would levy the maximum possible fine of $2.5 million against Sterling.
Commissioner Silver said the league hopes to begin the process of forcing the sale of the team immediately, but said he had not polled the league's other owners as to where they stood on supporting the forced sale. He did add that he "fully expects to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove [Sterling]."
Three-quarters of the Board of Governors will have to vote in favor of the motion to force the sale of the team for the punishment to be enacted.
The commissioner also added that he hopes that the sanctions satisfy the players, fans and sponsors of the league, and that he shared the public's outrage and anger with the views expressed on the recordings.
Donald Sterling did speak with the commissioner and admitted that it was his voice in the recording.
The comments, a recording of which was first made public by TMZ Sports over the weekend, were allegedly made to Sterling's girlfriend, V. Stiviano. On the recording, Sterling appears to admonish Stiviano for taking photos with black people and instructs her not to bring black people to Clippers games. Deadspin later released an extended version of the tape.
A few of the comments allegedly made by Sterling in the tape:
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”
“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”
"Don’t put him [Magic Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
Since the audio became public, the uproar in the NBA and beyond has been fierce. Other NBA owners have condemned Sterling. Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento and a leader of the NBA Players Association, urged Silver to fine and suspend Sterling. President Obama spoke out against Sterling, and a number of sponsors associated with the Clippers also decided to revoke their sponsorship contracts. Figures from around the league and elsewhere in the sports world have lined up to criticize Sterling.
The Clippers, still in the midst of their first round playoff series against the Warriors, silently protested Sterling by wearing their warmup uniforms inside out, a sign of dissent subsequently echoed by the Miami Heat.
A growing chorus of voices has also called for the end of Sterling's ownership of the franchise. Rumors at first swirled that Magic Johnson could be interested in purchasing the team; later, reports surfaced that the NBA was reportedly considering the so-called "nuclear option," which would involve the league taking over the franchise.
Sterling's comments do not constitute the first race-related controversy for the Clippers owner. Sterling made his fortune in real estate, but he has been the target of several major lawsuits alleging that his properties discriminated against minorities. In one case, he allegedly said that black and Hispanic families were not coveted tenants for one of his housing developments.
The Clippers and Warriors will play Game 5 of their playoff series Tuesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The series is currently tied 2-2.DEITSCH: Barkley and the TNT halftime crew react to Sterling's comments