Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life today by the NBA and barred from having any association with the team over racist remarks he purportedly made in a recorded telephone conversation.
Sterling was also ordered to pay a $2.5 million fine, which NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called the maximum possible penalty the league can assess. Silver said the money would be donated to anti-discrimination groups jointly identified by the NBA and the league’s players’ association.
He also said he wants Sterling to sell the team, and the commissioner said he “will do everything in my power to ensure” that the sale happens.
Sterling has owned the team since 1981.
The ban means Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices and is barred from going to any Clippers facilities. He also may not be involved in any decisions involving the team.
He is also barred from any NBA league activities or meetings.
Silver said he spoke to Sterling, who acknowledged that it was his voice on the recording.
“The central findings of the (NBA’s) investigation are that the man whose voice is heard on the recording … is Mr. Sterling and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling,” Silver said. “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful.”
He added, “Accordingly, effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA.”
Sterling’s remarks were made in a telephone conversation with V. Stiviano, who has been rumored to be linked romantically to Sterling. On the recording, the man reported to have been Sterling castigates Stiviano for an Instagram picture of her with Dodgers star Matt Kemp and Dodgers part-owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson and tells her not to bring black people to “my games.”
An attorney for Stiviano told the Los Angeles Times there has never been any admission of a romantic relationship between Stiviano and the 80-year-old Sterling. Mac Nehoray said Stiviano was a “veritable fixture” at Sterling’s business offices, indicating she was somehow working for the team.
Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, filed a lawsuit against Stiviano last month, demanding that she return a duplex, a Ferrari, two Bentleys and a Range Rover Sterling allegedly bought for Stiviano. The lawsuit alleges Stiviano “engages in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce and then … receives as gifts transfers of wealth from older men whom she targets for such purposes.”
Stiviano has several aliases, including Vanessa Perez, Monica Gallegos and Maria Valdez, the suit states. She met Sterling at the February 2010 Super Bowl game and that year began a sexual relationship with him, the suit states.
The suit asks for a return of all cash, land, expensive cars and other items that under law are the community property of the Sterlings.
More than a dozen corporations have dropped or suspended their sponsorships of the Clippers in response to Sterling’s comments. The team is scheduled to play game five of its best-of-seven playoff
series against the Golden State Warriors at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center. The series is tied 2-2. A coalition of organizations, including the NAACP, Nation of Islam, National Action Network and the National Hispanic Media Coalition plan to hold a rally at 5:30 p.m. outside the arena condemning the comments and calling for a boycott of the team.