UPDATE: The embattled owner of the L.A. Clippers has been given a lifetime ban from all NBA and team activities following a league investigation into racist comments made by Donald Sterling.
On Tuesday, NBA commissioner held a press conference to address the scandal surrounding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
The league launched an investigation after an audio recording of a man identified as Sterling – using racially charged comments and urging a girlfriend not to bring black people to his team’s games – was obtained and released by TMZ and Deadspin.
After facing considerable pressure to deal swiftly with the allegations against Sterling, Silver announced he will issue a lifetime ban against Sterling, barring him from any league and team activities.
Silver also announced a $2.5 million fine against Sterling, the maximum amount allowable according to league rules.
The Sterling scandal is Silver’s first true test as league commissioner since David Stern’s retirement in February.
Condemnation of the racist comments came from all circles, including former NBA stars Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, current players LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, U.S. President Barack Obama and corporate sponsors.
All eyes will be on Silver Tuesday who will discuss the league’s investigation and possibly announce disciplinary measures against Sterling.
Silver’s first priority is to verify whether the man on the recording is Sterling. If it is, the next move for the new commissioner – who works for the owners – remains unclear. It’s Silver’s first true test as league commissioner since David Stern’s retirement in February.
What the NBA could do to punish Donald Sterling
If Sterling is suspended he wouldn’t be able to attend games or team functions and would likely have to appoint someone to handle daily operations of the Clippers. There is precedent in the NBA and other professional sports leagues where an owner has been suspended.
Stern suspended Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor in 2000 when the team made a secret deal with a player to circumvent NBA salary cap rules.
The NBA allows for the commissioner to levy a penalty up to $1 million without requiring consent from other owners if Silver believes Sterling’s behaviour has damaged the league.
Given the short timeline since the recording was made public, another likely scenario is that Silver won’t take definitive action on Tuesday, but could fine or suspend Sterling as a preliminary measure while the league continues its investigation.
Although it’s possible, revoking Sterling’s ownership is an unlikely scenario. Forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers would bring him a financial windfall, but such a move could result in a long and expensive lawsuit against the league.
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With files from The Associated Press
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