Clippers owner Donald Sterling banned for life by NBA
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. AP photo
BY HASANI GITTENS
(NBC Sports) - Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will be banned for life and fined $2.5 million for racist comments, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday.
The move comes after days of outrage at ugly words attributed to Sterling from a taped conversation with an ex-girlfriend.
The comments, where the octogenarian owner seemed to say he didn't want his much-younger girlfriend hanging out with Black people on Instagram or bringing them to games, were first reported by TMZ and then in another recording posted on the sports website Deadspin.
The NBA had said if it was unable to authenticate the tapes, but Sterling's wife told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that it was her husband on the recordings.
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Silver said an investigation had confirmed that the voice on the tapes and the "hateful opinions voiced" were those of Sterling.
"Shortly after the release of an audio recording his past Saturday morning, of a conversation that allegedly included Clipper owner Donald Sterling, the NBA commenced an investigation, which among other things including an interview of Mr. Sterling," said Silver.
"That investigation is now complete," he said.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver said. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.”
The commissioner said that Sterling had not been fined by the league in the past for other alleged incidents of racism because the investigations that were actually brought to the NBA never bore fruit.
A senior NBA official told NBC News that the league's Board of Governors, the 30 owners of NBA teams, were not consulted on sanctions against Sterling and wasn't even told of the specifics until close to 2 p.m. ET, when the news conference started.
The official said that the commissioner wanted to fine Sterling $5 million, or more, but the league rules allow for only $2.5 million.
"I'm hoping that the actions that we took today will satisfy our players," said Silver.
When asked if the Clippers owner expressed remorse, Silver said, "Mr. Sterling has not expressed those views directly to me."