NBA commissioner bans Donald Sterling, wants forced sale - - Columbia, South Carolina

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling banned for life

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issues statements about racist comments LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling made to his girlfriend. (Source: CNN) NBA Commissioner Adam Silver issues statements about racist comments LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling made to his girlfriend. (Source: CNN)
This image appeared on the front page of the LA Clippers website Tuesday. (Source: LA Clippers/NBA) This image appeared on the front page of the LA Clippers website Tuesday. (Source: LA Clippers/NBA)

NEW YORK (RNN) - NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for racist comments he made on an audio recording made public this past weekend.

Silver announced the ban effective immediately, along with a maximum fine of $2.5 million, during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. Silver also said he would recommend a forced sale of the team, which Sterling has owned since 1981.

The NBA investigation into Sterling began after TMZ posted a nearly 10-minute audio recording. In the recording, allegedly between Sterling and his girlfriend V. Stiviano, he asks her to stop publicly associating with minorities.

"The central findings of the investigation are that the man whose voice is heard on the recording and on a second recording released on Sunday and that the hateful opinions expressed are those of Mr. Sterling," Silver said.

Stiviano, who is black and Mexican, reportedly posted an Instagram photo of herself standing with NBA Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson. That photo, which has since been removed, was also referenced in the recorded conversation.

According to Clippers President Andy Roeser, Stiviano is the defendant in lawsuit filed by Sterling's wife. The suit claims Stiviano tried to embezzle about $1.8 million from the Clippers owner.

One of the strongest punishments suggested by people outside the league was that Silver and the other owners force Sterling to sell the team.

A three-fourths vote among the league's owners is needed to remove control of a team from another owner.

League owners, current and former players and President Barack Obama were among the many people who publicly condemned Sterling's alleged comments, and multiple companies have canceled sponsorship deals with the team.

"I want to make clear that what we just heard today is not just about basketball, it's about Los Angeles," LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "The name the players have on their jersey is this city's name. The statements that we heard that we now have confirmed are the exact opposite of what this town is about. I want to personally thank Commissioner Silver for bringing down the hammer."

National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul, who is the starting point guard for the Clippers, said the issue would be addressed "aggressively" soon after public furor began during the weekend.

Clippers players, who are in a playoff series with the Golden State Warriors, did not follow suggestions that they boycott games. However, they warmed up before Game 4 on Sunday wearing red shirts inside out, which many interpreted as a sign of silent protest.

Sterling, 80, was born Donald Tokowitz to Jewish immigrants and legally changed his last name as an adult. He was an attorney-turned-real estate magnate who built a personal fortune that allowed him to buy the Clippers.

He has previously been the subject of lawsuits that accused him of discrimination, settling with the Justice Department for $2.73 million in 2009 in a lawsuit accusing him of denying rental properties to black and Hispanic families in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles.

Former Clippers general manager and Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor sued Sterling in 2011 of age discrimination and harassment, saying he was forced out of his job. Baylor also accused Sterling of racial discrimination, but later dropped that part of the lawsuit, according to the LA Times. A jury denied Baylor's request for about $2 million, and he was awarded no money.

The NBA did not publicly reprimand Sterling for either of those cases. Silver said those previous lawsuits did not factor into the decision to enforce a lifetime ban.

The Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, to which Sterling was a generous donor, was set to give him an award in May. The organization has since withdrawn that honor. The chapter previously gave him a lifetime achievement award, even though he had recently settled the Koreatown housing discrimination lawsuit.

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