New York, NY – Newly appointed commissioner Adam Silver dropped the anvil on L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling Tuesday afternoon at a press conference held at the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Days after tapes were released with the purported voice of Sterling spewing racial comments towards African Americans and in particular Earving “Magic” Johnson, Silver announced this past Saturday that the league would conduct a full blown investigation and afford Sterling every benefit before making his ruling. Silver wanted the decision made before the Clippers next home game taking place tonight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Silver that stated he was “personally outraged and distraught” over Sterling’s remarks it left him no choice but to ban Sterling for life. It includes a $2.5 million dollar fine the maximum amount allowed under the constitution of the NBA. Sterling cannot attend any NBA games, practices or be part of any office activities along with not being allowed on the team facilities.
Sterling cannot be involved in player personnel decisions and will not be allowed to attend NBA Board of Governors meeting. Silver also announced he will insist that the Board of Governors force Sterling to sell the team. In order for that to happen, 75% is needed by the Board for that to happen.
Silver took over as commissioner from David Stern right before the All Star break in February. Stern turned the league into a global machine introducing pro players into the Olympics. Although as many as 80% of the players are African American, European, Asian and Hispanic comprise some of the best players in the league.
Donald Sterling’s comments, while there are of no surprise to many, still cut open a deep nerve. Sterling has been sued in the past for racial discrimination having to settle the case out of court. Sterling was sued by his ex GM Elgin Baylor for work place discrimination. The suit did end favorably for Baylor but it shed light on Sterling’s thought process.
Adam Silver spoke and then took questions for more than 20 minutes from the media packed inside the 2nd floor ballroom. Stonefaced and solemn, Silver confirmed that the “hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling”.
Silver went on to say that “the views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful, that they came from and NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage”. Silver also apologized to pioneers of the game including Earl Lloyd, Chuck Cooper, Sweetwater Clifton, Bill Russell and Magic Johnson.
The series between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors is tied at 2 games each. The Clippers lost game 4 with the cloud of controversy hanging over their heads as both the players and coaches had to address the vile comments made by Sterling. Neither the players or head coach Doc Rivers attributed the distraction to losing a game they never really competed in.
Silver had one message to the fans and players of the Clippers. “This league is far bigger than any one owner, any coach, any player. The institution has been around for a long time and it will stand for a long time and I have the complete confidence in Doc Rivers, in the management of that club and the players deserve their support. They’ve just been through an incredibly difficult incident in their lives.”