NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday at a press conference in New York that maligned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will be banned for life from the National Basketball Association immediately and fined $2.5 million–the maximum amount allowed under current NBA rules.
Silver also urged the Board of Governors to “exercise its authority to force a sale of the team” and vowed to do everything in his power to ensure that happens.
“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 and caused current and former players, coaches, fans, and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league,” said Silver.
Silver also offered a personal apology to the first African-American players in the NBA, and offered Magic Johnson a particular apology for Sterling’s comments, which mentioned him by name.
The unprecedented punishment is the harshest ever for an owner of an American sports franchise, and comes after Silver announced the racially charged and misogynistic recordings released Saturday morning by TMZ were confirmed to be Sterling.
The announcement came only hours prior to the start of Game 5 of a first round playoff matchup between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors at Staples Center, and as pressure mounted on Silver from fans, former players, civil rights groups, and sponsors to act swiftly and sternly to punish Sterling.
In a press release shortly after the announcement, the Clippers stated, “We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins.”
Sterling purchased the San Diego Clippers in 1982 for $12.5 million and promptly moved them to Los Angeles.
Historically a litigious person, Sterling could take the NBA to court to appeal the legality of the ruling. Silver, however, said that while he has not spoken to every owner about his ruling, he has spoken to several owners and has their full support.
“The owners have the authority, subject to thee-quarters vote of the ownership groups…to remove [Sterling] as the owner,” Silver said, in regards to whether the NBA has the authority to force Sterling to sell Clippers
The funds from the $2.5 million fine will be “donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and its players association.”
Many people on social media are urging Clippers fans to dress in black when the Clippers will host the Warriors tonight at 7:30 p.m.