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NBA Commissioner bans Donald Sterling for life, fines him $2.5 million
CBS NEWS -- Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA in response to racist comments the league says he made in a recorded conversation.
Watch KFDM News at 6 for reaction from a former NBA star who lives in Beaumont and stay with www.kfdm.com for reaction.
Commissioner Adam Silver said he will try to force the controversial owner to sell his franchise. Sterling has also been fined $2.5 million, and Silver made no effort to hide his outrage over the comments, calling them "deeply disturbing and harmful."
He said a league investigation found that the league's longest-tenured owner was in fact the person on the audiotapes that were
released over the weekend.
"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."
Sterling acknowledged he was the man on the tape, Silver said.
Sterling is immediately barred from attending any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any
business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He also cannot participate in any league business going forward.
"This league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach and any one player," Silver said.
Silver said he would call on the owners to vote to force Sterling to sell the team. Such a move would require approval of three-quarters of the
The fine will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and the Players Association, Silver said.
Sterling's comments were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin, and the fallout has been swift: current and former NBA players have publicly denounced Sterling, the NAACP is returning donations he has made and canceled a planned award ceremony next month and sponsors have fled.
In the audio recording obtained by TMZ, a man alleged to be Sterling questions his girlfriend's association with minorities.
The man asks the Stiviano not to broadcast her association with black people or bring black people to games. The man specifically mentions
Magic Johnson, the former Los Angeles Lakers star and NBA Hall of Famer, saying, "Don't bring him to my games, OK?"
"You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want," the man says on the tape. "The little I ask you is ... not to bring them to my games."
Before Silver took the podium, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted out a photo of the NBA Constitution, saying "It exists for a reason."
The announcement of the sanctions came just hours before the Clippers will play Golden State in Game 5 of a knotted-up Western Conference first-round playoff series.
Several sponsors either terminated or suspended their business dealings with the team on Monday, though individual deals that some of those companies have with Clippers stars like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will continue and were not affected. Still, it was a clear statement that companies, like just about everyone inside the league, were outraged.
The issues raised when the tapes were released over the weekend represent just another chapter in Sterling's long history of being at the center of controversy.
In the past, he's faced extensive federal charges of civil rights violations and racial discrimination in his business dealings, and some of his race-related statements would be described as shocking.
He has also been sued in the past for sexual harassment by former employees, and even the woman who goes by the name "V. Stiviano" - purportedly the female voice on the tapes at the center of this scandal - describes Sterling in court documents as a man "with a big toothy grin brandishing his sexual prowess in the faces of the Paparazzi and caring less what anyone else thought, the least of which, his own wife."
Stiviano is being sued by Rochelle Sterling, who is seeking to reclaim at least $1.8 million in cash and gifts that her husband allegedly provided the woman.
In modern professional sports, there is only one precedent for forcing an owner to sell their team for incendiary commentary: Marge Schott, who owned baseball's Cincinnati Reds from 1986 to 1999.
"They could try to force the owner to sell the team, but they'd have huge legal hurdles," CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford told "CBS This Morning." "It'd be tough to go into a court of law and say we're going to force him to give up his property, what he owns, because of his comments."
CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports there are few parallels between what happened with Schott and what is happening with Sterling.
Schott was only forced to sell "after years of pressure from baseball and fellow owners, and only after General Motors accused her of falsifying car sales with the names of team employees at a Chevrolet dealership she had since sold. Even then, Schott reaped the financial benefit of the sale and retained one ownership share as well as 21 box seats and a luxury suite, according to this story from the Cincinnati Enquirer," Berger wrote.
The league's owners are wary of forcing Sterling to sell his team, even if it would bring him a financial windfall. The league took over the New
Orleans Hornets from previous owner George Shinn, but that was because of financial difficulties. The Clippers are a profitable team and Sterling is worth a reported $1.9 billion, so money is not an issue in
this case. Plus, taking such measures would almost assuredly bring a lawsuit from Sterling and a long, expensive legal fight.