MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned from the NBA.
On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that they had concluded their investigation and found it was Sterling’s voice on a recording making racist comments.
“The central findings of investigation are that the man whose voice is heard on the recording, and on a second recording from the same conversation that was released on Sunday, is Mr. Sterling,” said Silver. “And that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling.”
Silver said comments and opinions held by Sterling don’t belong in the NBA.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” said Silver. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage,” said Silver. “Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multi-ethnic league.”
Silver said the NBA has banned Sterling for life from any association with the Clipppers and the NBA. Silver said Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices, not be present at any Clippers’ facility and not participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He will also be barred from all NBA Board of Governors meeting and participating in any other league activity.
Sterling will also be fined $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed under the NBA constitution.
“These funds will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimation and tolerance efforts,” said Silver.
Silver said he will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team and will do everything in his power to ensure that it happens.
“The process of forcing the sale of the Clippers will begin immediately,” said Silver.
“We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins,” said the Clippers in a statement.
Silver also took a moment to thank those involved in this situation for their patience and professionalism.
“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,” said Silver. “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.”
After the verdict was announced, Miami Heat owner Mickey Arison post on Twitter, “Great job Adam.The @NBA is in good hands. You have my full support.”
Miami Heat point guard Dwyane Wade posted on Twitter “Commissioner Silver….STRONG…way to take charge and protect our great league.”
“The lifetime banning of Donald Sterling is a bold and appropriate action in this matter. This is a huge victory for those of us that stood against this ugly display of racism,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton in a statement. “We must continue to make unequivocal stands against bigotry and racism. I look forward to speaking to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and beginning the dialogue with other civil rights leaders right away to discuss putting in measures to make sure this never happens again.”
The Clippers players themselves made their statement before playing the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. They threw their team-issued warm-up gear down on center court and conducted their pregame warm up with shooting shirts inside-out to cover the team’s logo. The Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs wore black socks in their games as a show of support, while the Heat mimicked the Clippers warm-up statement in their playoff game against Charlotte on Monday night.
“Like I’ve said before, there’s no room in this game for an owner like that,” LeBron James said after the game. “For us, as basketball players, we’re all brothers. We’re competing against each other and all of us want to win, but in the end, we all have to stick together. We supported our Clippers tonight and showed our respect to what they’re going through. For us, as a team, we can’t imagine what they’re going through at this point.”
Kobe Bryant and TNT analyst Kenny Smith were among the many to join James in calling for Sterling’s ouster and Michael Jordan took a rare public stance on a high-profile issue when he said he was “disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views.”
Johnson posted a message on Twitter early Tuesday saying, “We’re at a defining moment in the history of the National Basketball Association.”
“What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. “There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with.”
At the same time, the attention Sterling’s alleged comments have brought to the league are not only affecting the Clippers, who play the Warriors in a crucial Game 5 on Tuesday night, but the league as a whole.
Losing sponsors could potentially impact bottom lines across the league because of revenue sharing and basketball related income.
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