NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced today he has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life. Silver said Sterling will no longer be welcome at any NBA event after Sterling admitted that racist comments in a recorded conversation were his. Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million and said he will try to force him to sell the Clippers.
The National Basketball Association has the power in its constitution to take such action against owners when they do something determined detrimental to the league. The private comments Sterling made, though, left the statutes that Silver could use—and the extent he would use them—up for speculation. In an unprecedented penalty, Silver decided to exercise almost all constitutional clauses to their fullest extent.
Silver made no attempt to hide how much he was “distraught” by the recording. “We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views,” Silver said. “They simply have no place in the NBA.”
The fine and the lifetime ban have already been instituted, barring Sterling from tonight’s playoff game in Los Angeles. The fine will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts, jointly selected by the NBA and the Players Association, Silver said.
But three-quarters of NBA owners must vote to force Sterling to sell the team. Silver said he “fully expects” the support of owners to remove Sterling and that no owner he had spoken to had objected. Sterling’s fate isn’t sealed, however. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban expressed much trepidation about forcing Sterling to sell the team, calling it “a very, very, very slippery slope.”
The NBA constitution is there for a reason, Cuban said, and the NBA would be better off without the “bigoted” Sterling. But forcing someone to give up their property for something said in their home is “not the United States of America,” Cuban said. “I don't want to be part of that.”