NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that he is issuing a lifetime ban to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on top of a $2.5 million fine following the league’s investigation into the racially insensitive comments made by the 80-year-old business magnate. In addition, Silver announced that he will urge the Sterling family to sell the Clippers franchise.
Here is Silver’s statement:
Shortly after the release of an audio recording this past Sunday morning of a conversation that allegedly included Clippers owner Donald Sterling, the NBA commenced an investigation which among other things included an interview of Mr. Sterling. That investigation is now complete. The central findings of the investigation are that the man whose voice is heard on the recording and on a second recording from the same conversation on Sunday is Mr. Sterling and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling.
The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multi-cultural and multi-ethic league. I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically had such a leadership role in matters of race relations and caused current players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their association with the league.
To them, and pioneers of the game like Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, “Sweet Water” Clifton, the great Bill Russell and particularly Magic Johnson, I apologize. Accordingly, effective immediately,
I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA. Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He will also be barred from attending NBA Board of Governors meetings or participating in any other league activity.
I am also fining Mr. Sterling $2.5 million dollar, the maximum amount allowed under the NBA constitution. These funds will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will jointly be selected by the NBA and its players association.
As for Mr. Sterling’s ownership interest in the Clippers, I will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens. This has been a painful moment for all members of the NBA family.
I appreciate the support and understanding 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 of Sacramento, who has been acting as the players’ representative in this matter. We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views. They simply have no place in the NBA.
The suspension and fine act under Paragraph 24(1) of the NBA constitution that states that the commissioner can suspend an owner indefinitely and fine him up to $2.5 million for situations where owners’ conduct is not otherwise covered.
In order for the Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the team, three-fourths of the owners will need to vote in favor of such movement under Paragraph 13 of the NBA constitution. Silver expects to receive full support from the rest of the owners. Sterling purchased the Clippers prior to the 1981-82 season.
Silver also made clear that the rest of the Sterling family is not part of the ban.
The suspension and fine follows heavy backlash against Sterling following the release of an audio tape where a man, allegedly Sterling, chastises Vanessa Stiviano over posting pictures of herself with black people to her Instagram account, most notably pointing to a photo with Magic Johnson. Many prominent figures around the country have spoken out against Sterling in the last couple of days.
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” said President Barack Obama. “That’s what happened here.”
“As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views,” said NBA legend Michael Jordan in a statement. “As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA — or anywhere else — for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed.”
“He shouldn’t own a team anymore,” said Johnson on ABC’s NBA playoff pre-game show. “I had a friendship with him. So for him to then make these comments, or alleged comments, about myself as well as other African-Americans and minorities, there’s no place in our society for it. There’s no place in our league, because we all get along. We all play with different races of people when you’re in sports. That’s what makes sports so beautiful.”
Sterling’s own team has stepped up and protested against him. Before their game against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, the Clippers players removed their shooting shirts, revealing inside-out warmup gear and hiding the Los Angeles Clippers logo. Miami Heat players reproduced the Clippers’ silent protest in an act of solidarity, removing their team-branded shirts and wearing inside-out warmup shirts to hide their team logo.