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NBA Bans Clippers Owner Donald Sterling for Life, Fines Him $2.5 Mil

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the figure is the maximum possible penalty the league can assess.

Donald Sterling. Patch file photo.
Donald Sterling. Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 11:35 a.m. April 29, 2014. Edited to add video, new details.

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 made in a recorded telephone conversation.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also said he will urge the league's 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 said he was confident he would have sufficient support among the other league owners to force a sale.

Sterling purchased the team in 1981 for about $12 million. It has been recently valued between $575 million and $700 million.

The ban means Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices and is barred from going to any Clippers facilities. He also cannot be involved in any decisions involving the team and is barred from attending any NBA league activities or meetings, Silver said.

Sterling was ordered to pay a $2.5 million fine, which is the maximum allowable penalty that the league can assess, according to Silver. He said the money would be donated to anti-discrimination groups jointly chosen by the NBA and the league's players' association.

Silver said Sterling, when interviewed by the NBA, 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. 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," Silver said. "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, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league."

He added, "Accordingly, effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA."

Asked if Sterling had expressed any remorse or denials of the remarks on the tape, Silver said, "Mr. Sterling has not expressed those views directly to me."

The Clippers issued a statement saying, "We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins."

Sterling's remarks were made in a telephone conversation with V. Stiviano, who has been rumored to be linked romantically to the 80-year-old billionaire. On the recording, Sterling castigates Stiviano for an Instagram photo 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 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 that 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, according to the suit, which seeks a return of all cash, land, cars and other items that under law are the community property of the Sterlings.

Since portions of the tape were first aired last weekend by TMZ.com, more than a dozen corporations dropping or suspending their sponsorships of Sterling's team, which is scheduled to play game five of its best-of-seven playoff series against the Golden State Warriors at 7:30 tonight 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.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA guard who works with the National Basketball Players Association, praised Silver's actions, saying, "On this day, Adam Silver is not only the owners' commissioner, he is also the players' commissioner."

"This is a very stark reminder that we still have a lot of work to do," Johnson said at a Los Angeles City Hall news conference. "... These events remind all of us that hatred and bigotry are far from over. I hope that every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and recognizes that if he can fall, so can you."

Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash also heaped praise on Silver and said he hoped the league can "make this a thing of the past as soon as possible."

"It begs a bigger question," Nash said. "If racism is a learned behavior, how long will it go on for and how long will people be taught to be bigoted, to discriminate and instill hatred in our communities?"

Former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he was "just thrilled with what Commissioner Silver did."

"He handled it the right way. I'm so happy that he did that and it's going to be a new day here in this city," Abdul-Jabbar said. "A whole lot of Clipper fans (are) going to have a lot more to smile about. ... We're looking forward to some very positive changes that will make this city an even more wonderful place than it already is."

Mayor Eric Garcetti quipped, "When you get this many Lakers to stand up for the Clippers, you know something big is happening in L.A."

"We are a single team here today," Garcetti said. "A team not only speaking out for what we're against -- racism, hatred, bigotry -- but what we're for. We're for great basketball."

The mayor said he hoped the team will "have the wind behind their sails to be able to go forward and to win a game tonight and think about nothing else but what they've worked their entire life for -- to be there tonight in the Staples Center on behalf of a city, a grateful and loving city that wants to seem them do their best and win. So all I have left to say is go Clippers, and thank you Commissioner Silver."

--City News Service

Surf's Up May 01, 2014 at 01:26 AM
Again - this issue is about a material breach of contract. It is a standard morals, character and behavior clause issue. Any violation of Mr. Sterling's privacy rights is between him and his mistress. Since the NBA and its franchisees are harmless, the censure and fine will stick. Sterling has a history of being litigious - so he may well litigate even if all the franchisees force him out, which they will. Either way through a conservator or sale - Sterling is out of the Clippers management business. This isn't a 1st Amendment issue - as no censorship or punishment was rendered by the federal government. Beast, the impact of the communication still violates Sterling's contract. This this not like a 4th Amendment "fruit of the poisonous tree case" - there is no wrongful federal or state government involvement. Sterling will need to seek redress from his mistress. And, he may seek redress from TMZ if they obtained the tape illegally. Which, as of yet there is no indication.
The Beast ! May 01, 2014 at 03:29 AM
632. (a) Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, by means of any electronic amplifying or recording device, eavesdrops upon or records the confidential communication, whether the communication is carried on among the parties in the presence of one another or by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device, except a radio, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
Steph Thomas May 24, 2014 at 10:43 PM
This is absurd!


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