On Tuesday, April 29, National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver declared that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is banned for life “from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA.”
This past weekend, the recorded conversation of Sterling with a woman believed to be his then-girlfriend Vivian (Vanessa) Stiviano was made public. In the conversation, Sterling made several comments of a racist nature. At one point he said, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”
Later, Sterling made it clear that he didn’t want Stiviano to bring African-Americans to his basketball games.
In the days leading up to the decision handed down by Silver, several people, including President Barack Obama and former Laker and NBA Hall-of-Famer Magic Johnson, who was targeted specifically by Sterling during the conversation, spoke out against Sterling’s comments. Furthermore, more than half of the current NBA team owners also made public statements denouncing Sterling’s opinions. Some, including Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, stated that Sterling shouldn’t be allowed to own a team. Others felt action was important, but would trust the judgment of Silver.
The lifetime ban means that Sterling will not be able to attend games and practices, go to NBA-affiliated facilities, or engage in business transactions involving the Clippers. This means that as of now, Sterling is nothing more than a fan that happens to take financial responsibility for the Clippers. He no longer has any decision-making power for the team he owns.
In addition to banning Sterling for life, Silver also imposed the maximum fine of $2.5 million allowed in the rules of the NBA Constitution. The funds, Sterling stated, will go to organizations committed to fighting discrimination and promoting tolerance, as selected by the NBA and the National Basketball Player’s Association (the labor union of the NBA).
Furthermore, Silver stated that he will push the Board of Governors (the committee composed of every NBA team’s majority owners) to force Sterling to sell the team and “will do everything in [his] power to ensure that that happens.”
Later, Silver noted that the NBA didn’t take into account Sterling’s past behavior in deciding on the aforementioned punishment. But, in coming to a decision about Sterling’s “fitness” to be an owner, the Board of Governors will take into account all of the actions he has made during his years as owner of the Clippers.
In order to remove Sterling from his NBA holdings, a three-fourths majority will be needed in the upcoming Board of Governors vote. Should this happen, Sterling will be forced to sell the team immediately.