The NBA has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million for racial comments he made to his reported girlfriend. The NBA will immediately begin working to try to force him to sell the team.
“The hateful opinions voiced by that of man [on the tape] are those of Donald Sterling,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said.
Silver announced the penalties at a news conference in New York.
The NBA’s announcement comes a little more than three days after TMZ released the first audio recording of Sterling allegedly telling his reported girlfriend – identified as V. Stiviano – he didn’t want her bringing African-Americans to Clippers games. In the recording, he also said he wanted her to remove photos of African-Americans – including one of former Los Angeles Lakers guard and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson – from social media.
Among the more inflammatory quotes attributed to Sterling:
• “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 them. 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.”
Deadspin later released an extended version of the audio recording in which Sterling allegedly tells the woman that blacks are treated “like dogs” in Israel. When reminded that most of the players on the Clippers are black, Sterling goes on to say, “I support them and give them food and clothes and cars and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have – who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners that created the league?”
Clippers players staged their own subtle protest during Sunday’s playoff loss to the Warriors by wearing their warm-up shirts inside-out to hide the “Clippers” name. They also wore black socks and wristbands.
Many of Sterling’s fellow NBA owners, including Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats, condemned the comments in recent days.
The controversy ranks as the NBA’s greatest since the Tim Donaghy scandal and comes less than three months after Silver replaced David Stern as NBA commissioner. Sterling had been sued multiple times in the past for racial discrimination, including a 2009 case in which he paid $2.7 million to settle allegations his companies targeted and discriminated against blacks, Hispanics and families with children in renting apartments in greater Los Angeles.
Under Stern, the NBA never publicly punished Sterling after the settlements.
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