Last updated on October 3rd, 2014 at 04:55 pm
WASHINGTON, D.C. (NNPA) – After Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was sternly denounced for racist comments by a spectrum of individuals, ranging from President Barack Obama to NBA superstar LeBron James, NBA Commissioner Alan Silver on Tuesday fined Sterling $2.5 million and banned him from the NBA for life.
At a news conference, Silver said he would ask the NBA Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, an action that would require a three-fourths approval. The fine, the maximum allowed under the NBA’s constitution and bylaws, will be donated to anti-discrimination and tolerance organizations jointly selected by the NBA and the NBA Players Association.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage,” Silver said at the news conference in New York City. “Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse multi-cultural and multi-ethnic league.
“Accordingly, effective immediately, I am barring Mr. Sterling for life, from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA. Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices, he may not be present at any Clippers facility, and he may not participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.”
This was Silver’s first major crisis since succeeding David Stern as commissioner in February. About 75% of the players in the NBA are Black.
The firestorm that culminated in Silver placing a lifetime ban on Sterling was touched off Saturday after celebrity website TMZ posted nine minutes of an audio tape of a secretly-recorded conversation between Sterling and Vanessa Stiviano, his mistress who describes herself as a descendant of Mexicans and African Americans. Another website, Deadspin, posted a 15-minute version of the tape on its site.
On the tape, the man identified as Sterling, told his mistress: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with Black people. Do you have to? You can sleep with [Black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that and not to bring them to my games.
“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people…Don’t put him (Magic Johnson) on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.”
The NBA conducted a three-day investigation to verify the voice on the tape was that of Sterling.
“The central findings of the investigation are that the man whose voice is heard on the recording and on a second recording from the same conversation, that was released on Sunday, is Mr. Sterling, and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling,” Commissioner Silver said at the news conference.
On another side of the world, at a press conference Monday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, President Obama called the comments “incredibly offensive racist statements.” He told reporters, “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk.”
Meanwhile, Clippers sponsors have begun abandoning the team. Mercedes-Benz USA, used car dealership chain CarMax, Virgin America airline and the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif. announced that they are terminating their sponsorships of the Clippers.
At least 10 others, including: Kia Motors, Red Bull energy drink, Diageo (the liquor company whose brands include Johnny Walker and Smirnoff), the Commerce Hotel and Casino in Los Angeles, Lumber Liquidators, Yokohama Tire, LoanMart, Carona, AQUAhydrate and Sprint said they are suspending their advertising and sponsorship programs with the team.
On Monday, April 28, National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial called for Sterling’s permanent removal from the game.
“Sterling’s 18th century views have no place in modern-day America or in our sports—and thus, in the NBA or as part of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise,” he said. “Commissioner Silver has a responsibility to the NBA, its players, fans, coaches, owners and partners to do what is in the best interest of the league to protect its brand and thus remove anyone or anything that is not aligned with what it represents. This includes placing a lifetime ban from the NBA on Donald Sterling.”
Speaking on Meet the Press, Al Sharpton said: “Well, I think that clearly the National Basketball Association must suspend him, or must say that, ‘We’re going to remove any kind of imprimatur we have on this team if he’s the owner.’ You cannot have someone own an NBA team in this country and have these kind of attitudes”
Southern Christian Leadership Conference President Charles Steele praised the action taken against Donald Sterling and said: “Now is the time to have a new, longer, broader and more in-depth conversation about race.”
Interim NAACP President Lorraine Miller, who appeared on Meet the Press with Sharpton, said the Los Angeles chapter had withdrawn its plan to present Sterling with a second Lifetime Achievement Award from the organization.
NAACP Board Chair Rosyln M. Brock requested a meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and issued a statement saying: “The remarks attributed to Mr. Sterling remind us that racism and bigotry are still alive and well in all corners of society, including professional sports.”
The NAACP has been criticized for honoring someone with such a long, documented history of racial animus.
Jesse Jackson, appearing on ESPN, called on fans to boycott the Clippers, saying: “If we are just going from picking cotton balls to picking basketballs, then we are not making progress. It’s about dignity.”
In a statement issued Sunday, Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan said: “I’m completely disgusted that a fellow
Encircled by controversy, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers and his team, privately seething with anger, have continued to play for an NBA title after winning their division championship this year for the first time in team history. To register their dismay, the team wore black socks and turned their warm-up jackets inside out to hide the team logo Sunday before losing Game 4 of the Western Conference playoffs to the Warriors, tying the series 2-2.
On Monday night other players followed suit, with the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trailblazers also wearing black socks and the Miami Heat practicing with their shirts inside out and throwing their warm-up gear in the middle of the court.