In the first major challenge in Adam Silver’s young tenure the NBA commission announced a lifetime ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in a nationally-televised press conference today.
Silver announced that the NBA has completed its investigation of Sterling’s alleged comments. The primary finding of the investigation is that “the man whose voice who is heard on the recording…is Mr. Sterling and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling.” Based on that, Silver issued a $2.5 million fine, the maximum allowable by the league, which will be donated to anti-discrimination groups. “Effective immediately,” Silver announced, “I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA.” This prohibits Sterling from attending games, entering the Clippers practice facility, and participating at league meetings.
Silver says he will use his authority to pressure Sterling to sell the team. Calling the NBA “an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role” in race relations, Silver said to black players from Bill Russell to Magic Johnson and beyond: “I apologize.”
Clippers owner Donald Sterling allegedly instructed a biracial girlfriend to not appear in online photographs with African Americans and to not show up to the Staples Center accompanied by African Americans. The ugly remarks sparked a boycott of the Clippers among corporate sponsors and the team to hide the Clippers insignia during pregame warmups on Sunday.
The Clippers face the Golden State Warriors tonight at the Staples Center in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. Silver advised the team, “This league is far bigger than any one owner.”
“We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views,” Silver explained. “They simply have no place in the NBA.”