NBA bans Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life

By Janis Carr and Dan Woike of The Orange County Register

NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that he banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life. He was also fined $2.5 million.

Silver also said he will urge the NBA’s board of governors to force Sterling to sell the Clippers.

An audio tape of racially charged comments attributed to Sterling surfaced last week on TMZ, and the league acted quickly to discipline Sterling. The Clippers’ owner has a history of issues involving race, especially including his real estate holdings, but this is the first time he has been disciplined by the NBA.

Silver said in a New York news conference the investigation concluded that it was Sterling’s voice on the recording, and Silver said Sterling conceded that it was his voice.

The commissioner also said that Sterling never was fined or suspended before by the league for any previous actions, but he said his history will be taken into account when the board of governors decides whether it will force him to sell.

Sterling may not attend games or practices or be present at the Clippers facility. He also cannot participate in any decisions pertaining to the team or attend board of governors meetings.

Silver, in the first major test of his tenure as commissioner, said he expects to get the votes he needs to force Sterling to sell the team.

Silver, in handing down what is believed to be the league’s harshest sanctions, called it a “painful moment” for the NBA.

This all is happening as the Clippers are in the middle of their first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, which is tied at 2-2. Game 5 of the series is Tuesday night at 7:30 PDT at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also an Orange County Register contributor, praised Silver’s decision in a gathering of former and current players in Los Angeles.

“I’m thrilled with the outcome,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “I think most of the players I’ve spoken to since the press conference feel the same way.”

Lakers guard Steve Nash also spoke with the group that included Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson, who worked with the NBA players’ association on the Sterling issue.

“This is a proud day for all of us players, for our league,” Nash said.

Several sponsors announced Monday that they were ending or suspending their relationships with the Clippers because of Sterling’s comments. Some groups have planned protests before Tuesday’s game.

Former Laker Magic Johnson was dragged into the scandal when Sterling made comments about his girlfriend posting a photo with him on Instagram. Johnson reacted by saying he and his wife, Cookie, never would attend another Clippers game while Sterling remained the owner.

“Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life,” Johnson said Tuesday on Twitter.

Shortly after the announcement, visitors to the Clippers’ website found a black page with only white type reading, “WE ARE ONE” and the team’s logo.

The Clippers also released a statement, though it was unclear who in the organization it came from: “We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins.”