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.
NBA 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.
“I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners I need to remove him,” Silver said.
The rebuke, which came three days after the scandal broke, is the harshest penalty ever issued by the league and one of the stiffest punishments ever given to an owner in professional sports.
Silver said a league investigation found the NBA’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, being present at any Clippers office or facility, or participating in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He also cannot participate in any league business going forward.
It’s unclear how Sterling will respond, and a lawsuit certainly seems possible.
Sterling’s lawyer, Robert Platt, declined comment when asked by ESPN whether Sterling wound dispute or respond to the NBA’s actions.
“This league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach and any one player,” Silver said.
A team source told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne that the Clippers expect to work closely with the NBA in order to determine who will run the franchise going forward.