WATCH ABOVE: NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Steve Nash, Kevin Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban
The NBA has smacked down a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling following racist and “hateful” comments he admitted to making.
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, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday he will issue a lifetime ban against Sterling, barring him from any league and team activities.
Making no effort to hide his outrage, Silver called Sterling’s comments “hateful,” adding the NBA owner’s views are “deeply offensive and harmful.”
“That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage,” said Silver.
“We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views,” Silver said. “They simply have no place in the NBA.”
Sterling is immediately banned from attending any NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility or participate in any business involving the team.
Silver also announced a $2.5 million fine against Sterling, the maximum amount allowable according to league rules. Silver said the money would be donated to anti-discrimination organizations that would be jointly selected by the NBA and Players Association.
Additionally, Silver said he would do everything in his power to urge the Board of Governors to force a sale of the L.A. Clippers.
The Sterling scandal is Silver’s first true test as league commissioner since David Stern’s retirement in February.
Silver said that the league’s investigation determined the voice on the recording was in fact him Sterling – though he offered no other comments about the content of the recordings.
This isn’t the first time Sterling has been the centre of controversy. He’s faced federal charges of civil rights violations and racial discrimination. He’s been sued for sexual harassment by former employees.
Following Silver’s announcement Tuesday, the L.A. Clippers website redirected users to a black screen and the words “We Are One.”
The racist comments made by Sterling have been widely condemned within the NBA.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the group that owns the Toronto Raptors, released a statement Tuesday saying that Sterling’s comments “have no place in our society or sport.”
Charlotte Bobcats owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan said in a statement released Sunday he was disgusted that a team owner “could hold such sickening and offensive views.”
“As a former player, I’m completely outraged. There is no room in the NBA – or anywhere else – for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed.”
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson – who was referenced in the recording – tweeted that Sterling’s comments are a “black eye for the NBA.”
“There’s no room in this game for an owner like that,” said Miami Heat star player LeBron James. “For us, as basketball players, we’re all brothers. We’re competing against each other and all of us want to win, but in the end, we all have to stick together.”
Voices from outside the NBA have also joined the chorus of condemnation.
U.S. President Barack Obama described the comments as “incredibly offensive racist statements.”
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk,” said Obama on Sunday.
When asked if she had any advice for the Clippers organization, Oprah Winfrey told TMZ, “we’re all off the plantation. The plantation days are over.”
On Monday, representatives from the L.A. branch of the NAACP announced they would no longer honour Sterling with a lifetime achievement award.
L.A. NAACP president Leon Jenkins said donations made by Sterling to the organization would be returned. Though Jenkins wouldn’t say how much money was donated he said it was not a significant amount of money.
“There is a personal, economic and social price that Mr. Sterling must pay for his attempt to turn back the clock on race relations,” he said.
Following a silent protest by Clippers players in their game Sunday against the Golden State Warriors – players warmed up with their jerseys inside out, hiding the team’s logo – more teams have shown their support for the players.
On Monday night, Miami Heat players mimicked the Clippers warm-up statement in their game against Charlotte.
“We supported our Clippers tonight and showed our respect to what they’re going through. For us, as a team, we can’t imagine what they’re going through at this point,” said James.
Players from the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks wore black socks in recent games as a show of support for the Clippers bench.
On Tuesday, DeMar DeRozan said the Toronto Raptors would make a “gesture of solidarity” in their game Wednesday night.
Used car dealership CarMax was the first corporate sponsor to end its deal with the Clippers, calling Sterling’s comments “completely unacceptable.”
Insurer State Farm said it “will be taking a pause in our relationship” with the Clippers and will be monitoring the situation closely.
More sponsors, such as Kia, Mercedes-Benz and Virgin America are backing away from advertising at the team’s games.Follow @heatherloney
With files from The Associated Press
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