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29 April 2014

Donald Sterling receives lifetime ban in response to racist comments.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he will try to force the controversial owner to sell his franchise. Sterling also was fined $2.5 million, and Silver made no effort to hide his outrage over the comments.

"I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him," Silver said.

The rebuke, which came three days after the scandal broke, is the harshest penalty ever issued by the league and one of the stiffest punishments ever given to an owner in professional sports.

Silver said a league investigation found the NBA's longest-tenured owner was in fact the person on the incendiary audiotapes released over the weekend.

"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."

Silver said Sterling acknowledged he was the man on the tape.

Sterling is immediately barred from attending NBA games or practices, being present at any Clippers office or facility, or participating in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He also cannot participate in any league business going forward.

It's unclear how Sterling will respond, and a lawsuit certainly seems possible.

Sterling's lawyer, Robert Platt, declined comment when asked by ESPN whether Sterling would dispute or respond to the league's actions.

"This league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach and any one player," Silver said.

A team source told ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne that the Clippers expect to work closely with the NBA to determine who will run the franchise.

The woman on the recording, who goes by the name V. Stiviano, cooperated with the NBA, as did a third person who was in the room when the tapes were made, another source told Shelburne. The woman verified to the league that it was her and Sterling on the tapes, according to the source.

Stiviano's lawyer, Mac Nehoray, told the L.A. Times his client didn't have a sexual or romantic relationship with Sterling, "never wanted any harm to Donald" and is "very saddened" by Silver's decision.

The recordings that have been released were made in September, and Sterling knew he was being recorded, the source told Shelburne. Stiviano has several additional hours of audio and video recordings of Sterling, according to the source.

Stiviano's attorney told the L.A. Times that his client didn't release the tape and that "someone released it for money."

Sterling's $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 the players' association, Silver said.

"This has all happened in three days, and so I am hopeful there will be no long-term damage to the league and to the Clippers organization," Silver said. "But as I said earlier, I'm outraged, so I certainly understand other people's outrage. This will take some time, and appropriate healing will be necessary."

After the announcement, the Clippers' website had a simple message: "We are one."

"We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins," the Clippers added in a statement released to the media.

Prior to their Game 5 against the Warriors, Clippers coach Doc Rivers addressed the media and praised Silver's decision to ban Sterling.

"I thought Adam Silver today was fantastic. He made a decision that really was the right one that had to be made," Rivers said. "I don't think this is something we rejoice in or anything like that. I told the players about the decision and I think they were just happy there was a resolution and it's over or at least the start of it. I was just really proud of them and I've been proud of the players in the NBA overall, I've been proud of the ownership throughout the league and I think we're all in a better place because of this."

The league's investigation started Saturday, and players immediately began expressing intense displeasure with the situation, even going so far as to ask Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to get involved on behalf of the players' union. Johnson is acting liaison for the National Basketball Players Association.

The penalties issued against Sterling drew an immediate reaction from players, teams and executives around the NBA.

Lakers legend Magic Johnson, who was mentioned in the audio recording, took to Twitter to voice his support for Silver's ruling.

Source: ESPN


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