Three days after the leak of controversial audio recordings of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling berating his then-girlfriend about posing with black athletes and “associating with black people,” the NBA took action on Tuesday (April 29) and banned billionaire Sterling from the league for life.
In a press conference, Commissioner Adam Silver said the league’s investigation into the incident, which included an interview with Sterling, concluded that the recordings were legitimate and that the “hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling.” The Clippers owner’s comments drew immediate, and widespread, condemnation from athletes and entertainers, including Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Game, Meek Mill and Rihanna, as well as President Obama.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver said, noting that the investigation into the incident concluded on Monday night. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage… I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations.”
Silver apologized to the league’s pioneers (including Magic Johnson, whose picture with Sterling’s girlfriend sparked the owner’s tirade), as well as its fans and partners. And then he dropped the hammer. “Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA,” Silver said, adding that Sterling is also being fined the maximum amount allowed under the NBA’s rules: $2.5 million. That money will be donated to anti-discrimination and tolerance organizations.
Sterling confirmed his voice was on the tape, but Silver said that no expressions of remorse or regret over the hateful speech have been made so far.
That means that Sterling cannot attend any NBA games or practices, visit any Clippers facility or participate in any business or player/personnel decisions. While Silver can’t make Sterling give up his team, he said he’d urge the NBA board of governors to force a sale of the team. Efforts to try and force the sale will begin immediately.