NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from any association with the NBA and the Clippers and fined $2.5 million in the wake of racist comments by Sterling that were made public over the weekend.
"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."
Silver added that he "will urge the board of governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens." Silver indicated that he spoke to several owners and has their support in trying to force Sterling to sell the team. Three-quarters of the league's owners would have to vote for Sterling to be removed as an owner for that to occur.
"One owner said this weekend, 'We want him out of the club,' so that's a very powerful voice right there,'' New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica told Matt Lauer on TODAY Tuesday morning in advance of Silver's press conference. "The second thing is, for the first time really, the Players Association's intent, and those of owners, are completely lined up because the Players Association, even if it's like a year suspension, it's not going to be enough because this guy can't go forward owning this basketball team."
The NBA launched an investigation immediately after an audio recording alleged to be Sterling was released by TMZ Sports on Saturday. The NBA interviewed Sterling, and he confirmed that it was his voice on the recording expressing what Silver termed "hateful opinions" during a conversation with V. Stiviano, his girlfriend at the time.
"The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,'' Silver said. "That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multi-ethnic league."
The Clippers' home game Tuesday night — against the Golden State Warriors — will be their first since the controversy ignited.
"I think the fans will be very supportive,'' Lupica said. "I know Mark Jackson, the coach of the Warriors, said the fans ought to stay home, but I don't think that's going to happen. The players didn't do anything. (Head coach) Doc Rivers didn't do anything. They've just become part of the fallout of this toxic mess. I think the fans will be loud and supportive tonight."
The $2.5 million fine is the maximum amount allowed under the NBA constitution, according to Silver, and the money will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination efforts.
"I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations and caused current and former players, coaches and fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league,'' Silver said.
Sacramento mayor and former All-Star Kevin Johnson, who an adviser to the NBA Players Association, said on TODAY Monday that the players want Sterling to face "the most severe sanctions" possible, which is what Silver delivered on Tuesday.
Sterling has been involved in a pair of federal lawsuits in the past 11 years for allegedly refusing to rent apartments to blacks and Latinos, which has led to questions about why the NBA did not do anything about him earlier.
"I can't speak to past actions other than to say that when specific evidence was brought to the NBA, we acted,'' Silver said.
Silver was also asked if an owner losing control of his team for private remarks was "a slippery slope."
"Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they are now public, and they represent his views,'' Silver said.
For the majority of Sterling's ownership, the Clippers had been one of the most losing professional teams in North American major sports, but have been on the rise in recent seasons behind stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
"If there's a weird sort of karma at work here, after Sterling has been this kind of clown owner for this long, now he's actually got a team with a chance to win, and now this is visited on his players and on his coach,'' Lupica said.
This story was originally published at 8:12am.