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Clippers Owner Donald Sterling “Banned for Life” from NBA

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Press Conference
NBA Commissioner bans Clippers owner for life. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The news just came down from Commissioner Adam Silver.

The NBA has officially banned the controversial owner from attending any games, NBA events, conducting any business with or pertaining to the professional basketball organization.  The Commissioner also said he and the league will pressure Sterling to sell the Clippers franchise.

He’s been fined $2.5 million dollars, that money will go towards organizations dedicated to anti-discriminatory efforts.  Those groups will be chosen by the NBA and the Players Organization.

Sterling was reportedly captured on tape making racist statements about blacks in reference to his girlfriend Vanessa Stiviano having friendships with such players as Magic Johnson and others.    The tape wound up in the hands of gossip tabloid magazine TMZ, and quickly spread.  Sterling has been married since 1955 to Rochelle Sterling, currently his estranged wife.

In 1982, Sterling was fined by the NBA after the owner said he would accept the woeful franchise finishing in last place just so they could draft higher caliber players.   Sterling, who bought the team in 1981 and moved it from San Diego to Los Angeles,  was known for running his franchise in such a frugal manner they were long considered the laughingstock of the league.   He was in fact, fined by the NBA for moving the team to L.A. without permission.

This isn’t the first time Sterling has been in trouble for racial issues, some outside of the league.  The U.S.government sued him in 2006 for allegedly refusing to rent some of his apartment buildings  to non-Koreans in the Koreantown neighborhood, and refusing to rent to African-Americans in Beverly Hills.   He lost, and paid a fine in 2009.  In 2011 he won a lawsuit filed by former General Manager Elgin Baylor who sued him over alleged race and age discrimination.

It is interesting to note that Stiviano’s lawyers filed legal papers saying she did not leak or purposely make public the hour-long conversation with the owner over the racial issues.   It is still not known how the recording made it’s way into the hands of TMZ and the website Deadspin.com.

According to NBA sources, Sterling can be forced to sell his team by a 2/3rds vote of the rest of the NBA owners.   That appears to be a likely result down the road.

The only verification that the recording is “real” and has not been altered or pieced together is from NBA attorneys.

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