NBA bans Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life, fines him $2.5M, looks to force sale (updated)

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National Basketball Assn. Commissioner Adam Silver on Tuesday banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life from association with the team and NBA activities, fined him $2.5 million and said he would urge the Board of Governors to force a sale of the team. Silver made the announcement at a press conference confirming that it was Sterling's voice on two recordings disclosed over the weekend in which Sterling could be heard making racist comments.

Social Media reaction | Video of NBA Statement | Sterling Charitable Contributions 

Highlights:

5:33 p.m.: Where NBA teams, owners stand on Sterling

The fate of Clippers owner Donald Sterling – banned for life by the NBA on Tuesday and fined $2.5 million – now rests with the NBA's Board of Governors, who will decide whether to force him to sell the L.A. team.

It will take a three-fourths vote of the board – comprising Sterling's fellow NBA owners – to order the sale. If Sterling's not voting, that's 22 owners.

So where do they stand on Sterling's punishment in the wake of Sterling's racist comments, which were disclosed over the weekend?

KPCC gathered public comments and reactions from all 30 NBA organizations – many from the owners themselves – who unanimously voiced their support Tuesday for league Commissioner Adam Silver's decision to ban and fine Sterling.

See a rundown of NBA teams & owners public comments on Sterling

Even Sterling's own team, the Clippers, released a statement from the team "embracing" Silver's decision. The Heat, Grizzlies, Pacers, Mavericks and several other teams also changed the landing page of their websites to match the Clippers homepage, which simply stated, "We Are One."

According to the NBA "constitution" which governs NBA teams, owners can terminate another's franchise with a three-fourths vote by the NBA Board of Governors," according Lester Munson from ESPN.

"Any owner or Silver can initiate the termination procedure with a written charge describing the violation. Sterling would have five days to respond to the charge with a written answer," Munson writes.

2:33 p.m. Lakers president issues statement on sanctions

Lakers President Jeanie Buss issued a statement Tuesday afternoon praising the action by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

“In my statement yesterday, I said I had full confidence in Adam Silver and how he and the NBA would handle this situation. In today’s announcement Adam was decisive, firm and compelling and showed great leadership in his condemnation of the horrible and offensive comments that have led to this action.”

Silver also issued a statement addressing the fans, reiterating much of what was in his earlier statement announcing sanctions against Sterling. Read the statement to fans below:

Dear Fans,

This afternoon I announced that, following the completion of a thorough investigation into an audio recording obtained by TMZ, I banned Donald Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers or the NBA, effective immediately. Mr. Sterling may not attend 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. I also fined Mr. Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed under the NBA Constitution. These funds will be donated to charitable organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and its Players Association.

The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and hurtful. I am extremely proud of this great league’s diverse, respectful and inclusive culture, and we will not allow one individual’s intolerant views to define us. Let me be clear: Mr. Sterling’s views have no place in the NBA.

This has been a painful episode for all members of the NBA family. I very much appreciate your understanding during this process. I also want to express my thanks and admiration to Coach Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, and the entire Clippers organization for their professionalism throughout this matter, and to Chris and Mayor Kevin Johnson for their leadership and partnership on behalf of the Players Association.

And now I am eager to turn the spotlight back where it belongs: on the game we all love and on these thrilling playoffs, which have been some of the most exciting basketball I’ve seen in my 22 years with the league. I hope you enjoy the rest of the playoffs and The Finals.

Sincerely,
Adam Silver

KPCC staff

CNN video of NBA statement

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Update 2:06 p.m. UCLA rejects $3 million pledge from Sterling for kidney research

UCLA announced Tuesday that, due to Donald Sterling's racist comments, they were returning a $425,000 gift from Sterling and rejecting the rest of his $3 million pledge to support kidney research at the school's Division of Nephrology.

"Mr. Sterling's divisive and hurtful comments demonstrate that he does not share UCLA’s core values as a public university that fosters diversity, inclusion and respect," the statement said.

The school also said that an advertisement in Sunday's Los Angeles Times falsely suggested that it was UCLA publicly thanking him for the gift when the ad was actually placed by Sterling, not the university.

The ad from Sunday's L.A. Times:

Mike Roe

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Update 1:55 p.m. Team owners, fans speak out about Sterling sanctions

Greg Miller, CEO of the group that owns the Utah Jazz, praised Silver's sanctions against Sterling on Tuesday, the Arizona Republic reports.

"On behalf of the Miller family, we support the decisive action by Commissioner Silver and the NBA to reaffirm that there is no place for racism and hatred in our league," the Republic reports. "While this situation has been inexcusable, I hope it serves the greater purpose of reinforcing our vigilance against this type of behavior."

Atlanta Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson has said that he would vote to remove Sterling if a vote was taken, and he commended NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's sanctions against Sterling, the Republic reports.

"He acted swiftly and appropriately with the severity of the penalty and I strongly support his decision," Levenson said, according to the Republic.

Closer to home, Los Angeles resident Daniel Yarbrough, 28, was at L.A. Live during this morning's press conference by Silver and said he was wearing all black to protest tonight's game.

"I'm very pleased with his statement and judgment," Yarbrough said.

He said he's been a fan since 1998 and that his family are season ticket holders. They'd planned to buy tickets for Tuesday night's game, but after Sterling's comments, decided not to.

“I’ve been torn and I’ve been getting pulled one way or another," Yarbrough said. "I think they speak loudly as long as they keep winning. When they win they have a larger platform to speak on.”

Donald Jones, an elderly man who often hangs out at L.A. Live and the Santa Anita race track, said he expects Sterling to fight the sanctions. He also sees Sterling as a distraction to the Clippers during the playoffs.

“The players now, their mind is not on Golden State. They got to beat Golden State and beat him, too," Jones said, adding that Sterling was laughing at them.

Jones said he thought "Magic" Johnson was the last person Sterling would sell to.

Francisco Vargas of the San Fernando Valley said he's a fan of the Lakers, but that he likes some of the Clippers' players.

“I don’t feel like supporting the Clippers in any way now, whether it would be financially or moral support, just because I know at the end of the day it all goes back into his pocket," Vargas said, "and I don’t feel comfortable with any of my hard earned money going into the pockets of a man who would discriminate against me the first chance he got.”

For its part, the Clippers released a simple statement, the Associated Press reported: 

"We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins."

Erika Aguilar with KPCC staff

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Update 1:21 p.m. Doc Rivers issues statement on Sterling on behalf of Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers issued a statement on behalf of the team Tuesday following the sanctions issued against owner Donald Sterling over racist comments.

"I can't even begin to tell you how upset I am and our players are," Rivers said in his statement.

"We need unbelievable support right now," Rivers said. "My hope is that whatever the fans do, it is as one."

The Clippers' website changed Tuesday to feature the "We Are One" message.

"From one man’s comments, a lot of people have been affected and the conversations that we’re all having do need to be had," Rivers said.

Read the full statement below:

“I would like to reiterate how disappointed I am in the comments attributed to [Donald Sterling] and I can’t even begin to tell you how upset I am and our players are. Today, I had a meeting with the members of our organization. When you are around all these people, you realize they are just as upset and embarrassed by the situation and it does not reflect who they really are. That was what I got from all of them. They are now a part of this and they are upset at this. But, they are all going to hang in there and so are we - I can tell you that as a group and as a team. From our fans’ standpoint, I want to say that they have been amazing, I can tell you that. We need unbelievable support right now from other people and I’m hoping we get that. My hope is that whatever the fans do, it is as one. I think that is what we all should do.

“We want to make the right decisions here. We’re doing our very best to try and do that. We know that fans are in a dilemma as well. We want them to cheer for their players and their team. It will always be their players and their team. From the fans that I have heard from, that’s how they feel. ‘This is my team. These are my players that I’m cheering for and that’s not going to change.’ I hope STAPLES Center is packed and people are cheering for the players. The players are now in the middle of this, and they have to deal with it.

“We are all trying to figure out everything as it goes and just do our best and we hope that it is the right answer. I’m still going to do my best and do what I think is best for the team and for everybody in this case. It is very difficult because there are so many emotions in this. This is a very emotional subject, this is personal.

“My belief is that the longer we keep winning, the more we talk about this. I believe that is good. If we want to make a statement - I believe that is how we have to do it. I think that is the right way to do it, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t wrestle with it every day and every moment. That is the difficult part.

“We are all doing our best here. Our players are doing their best. There are a lot of people involved in this. From one man’s comments, a lot of people have been affected and the conversations that we’re all having do need to be had.”

KPCC staff

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Update 12:23 p.m. LA City Council votes to condemn Sterling's remarks

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to condemn the racist remarks made by Donald Sterling. The resolution also asks for an apology from Sterling to the city and specifically to Earvin "Magic" Johnson. 

Council President Herb Wesson asked that the NBA commissioner visit L.A. and meet with Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council to discuss the issue. 

The resolution was introduced by Councilman Bernard Parks. 

“We are looking to create a situation where this council makes a very adamant stand and condemn the derogatory and racial and biased statements made by Donald Sterling," Parks said.

"We believe that there should be a personal apology to the entire L.A. city community, but specifically, identifying that Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, who is an iconic figure in this city and nationally, was singled out by those statements, that he should also get a personal apology.”

The Council's resolution also asked the L.A. Times and other newspapers to drop advertisements for Sterling's real estate empire and "alleged civic activities," the Times reports. The paper declined to immediately comment on the Council's request.

Sterling's remarks were during a private phone call with his girlfriend where he chastised her for posting a photo with "Magic" Johnson and asked her not to make it known publicly that she associates with black people.

Alice Walton

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Update 12:12 p.m. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says Sterling's comments aren't what LA is about; Sacramento mayor says this is a historic moment

In an L.A. press conference, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson spoke, along with other past and present players.

"I want to make clear that what we just heard today is not just about basketball," Garcetti said, saying that the Clippers bear L.A.'s name and that that name stood for values including tolerance and diversity.

He said that Sterling's comments were the opposite of what L.A. is about.

"We will not tolerate this from anybody, from any company, least of all one that bears this great city's name," Garcetti said.

Garcetti thanked Silver for "bringing down the hammer" as hard as could be on Sterling.

Garcetti said that L.A.'s message for the Clippers is "We love you, we are behind you, and that today we feel like justice has begun to be served."

Sacramento mayor, former player Kevin Johnson says sanctions mark historic moment for civil rights

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player who has been acting as a liaison for players with the league, said at the news conference that sports has played "a pivotable role in advancing civil rights," and that this was another example of that.

"I believe that today stands as one of those great moments, where sports once again transcends," Johnson said. He said sports were providing a place for fundamental change.

"There will be zero tolerance for institutionalized racism, no matter how rich or powerful," Johnson said.

He said he was proud of players for standing up for themselves and not being afraid to articulate their outrage.

"They came out strong, they came out powerful, and they did it in a very, very professional way," Johnson said.

Johnson said that players had asked Johnson to convey several things to the league: that they needed immediate action, they need the players' voice to be heard and that they wanted the maximum allowable punishment under the NBA's bylaws and constitution and that there must be a change in ownership.

"The players believe the commissioner has done his duty," Johnson said.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: "This really bothered me"

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spoke at the press conference, saying that he was "thrilled" by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's actions against Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

"I haven't gotten much sleep in the last couple of days because this really bothered me," Abdul-Jabbar said. He said that Silver's actions were "so on the mark that it was unbelievable."

The first vice president of the players association, Roger Mason, also said at the press conference that players were ready to boycott games if strong action wasn't taken against Sterling.

"We are not content yet," Mason said, and said that the players wanted a timetable on when a vote to force Sterling to sell would take place.

Other players at the press conference included current Laker Steve Nash, former Laker A.C. Green, former Laker and Clipper Norm Nixon and current New York Knick Tyson Chandler who played high school basketball in Compton.

Mike Roe

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Update 11:39 a.m. NBA Commissioner Silver gives Sterling lifetime ban, $2.5M fine, pushes for team sale

National Basketball Assn. Commissioner Adam Silver said that the NBA's investigation had concluded that it was Sterling's voice on the recording purported to be racist statements by Sterling. Silver said that Sterling himself confirmed that it was his voice.

"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."

A sale could be forced by the other owners, Silver said.

"The owners have the authority, subject to three-quarters vote of the ownership groups of the partners, to remove him as a partner," Silver said. He later added that he fully expects there to be the support to remove him as an owner.

The $2.5 million fine is the maximum allowed under the NBA's constitution, according to Silver. The money will be donated to anti-discrimination and pro-tolerance efforts selected by the NBA and the players association, Silver said.

Silver said that he didn't poll the owners, but that he had spoken with several and had their full support.

When asked about the remarks being made in private and how much responsibility Sterling should bear for them, Silver said, "Whether or not these remarks were initially shared in private, they are now public, and they represent his views."

When asked if it would be possible for a Sterling family member to take over ownership of the team, Silver said that it wasn't being ruled out and that the lifetime ban only applied to Sterling himself.

Silver thanked Clippers coach Doc Rivers, Clippers player and union president Chris Paul and Sacramento mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson. He said they all stood together in condemning Sterling's comments.

Silver said that they were not considering allowing Clippers players to become free agents after this season.

Social media reaction to NBA press conference on Donald Sterling

Mike Roe with KPCC staff

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7:48 a.m.: Sterling news from overnight

As more figures continue to speak out about Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's alleged racist rant, the NBA was preparing to speak publicly on the growing controversy at 11 a.m. PDT in New York in a press conference that KPCC will stream live here.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is scheduled to discuss the NBA's investigation and possibly reveal disciplinary actions against Sterling.

RELATED: Donald Sterling controversy exposes NAACP's donations bind

A suspension of indefinite length and a hefty fine — Silver can issue one of up to $1 million without approval from owners — are possible options, the Associated Press reports. However, it remains unclear how far Silver's powers extend at this point, even though the NBA constitution gives the commissioner's office the clout to protect the game's best interest.
 
Meanwhile, here are the latest developments as the Clippers look toward Tuesday night's fifth game in the playoffs at Staples Center against cross-state rivals the Golden State Warriors, beginning at 7:30 p.m. — their first home game since the controversy began:

  • L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a joint press conference with Sacramento mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson at L.A. City Hall for 11:45 a.m. that will follow the NBA commissioner's press conference.
  • Former L.A. Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tweeted that he would be at Garcetti and Johnson's press conference. He posted an extended version of the statement on Facebook, also noting that the influence of African-American players could be seen in the book and documentary he made, "On the Shoulders of Giants."

Kareem tweet

  • Sacramento Mayor Johnson, who is serving as an adviser to the National Basketball Players Association while the Sterling controversy plays out, posted a message on his official Facebook page early Tuesday saying, "We're at a defining moment in the history of the National Basketball Association." Johnson called for an indefinite suspension, the appointment of an executive or family member to run the team and "the maximum fine possible."
  • Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban called Sterling's purported comments about minorities "abhorrent" while saying he didn't think the NBA could force him out as owner of the Clippers, the AP reports. Cuban said he trusted Silver to "operate under the best interest of the NBA" but that it was a "slippery slope" to suggest that Sterling should be forced out as owner over comments made in the privacy of his home. "I think you've got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do." Cuban questioned how the league would address other forms of bigotry in the league.
  • UCLA issued a statement on Sterling's donations to the school, confirming he'd pledged $3 million for kidney research. Read the statement below; you can also read about the announcement of the gift from earlier this month.

Statement Regarding Sterling Gift
 
The advertisement in the Los Angeles Times was not placed by UCLA. However, the campus can confirm that Donald T. Sterling has pledged $3 million over seven years to support basic kidney research by the UCLA Division of Nephrology. An initial payment of $425,000 has been received. The gift document does not address signage or the naming of a research laboratory.
 
While UCLA finds the comments attributed to Mr. Sterling racist and extraordinarily repugnant, the campus will await the results of the NBA's investigation into the accuracy of the attribution of the comments before offering anything further.

  • Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert released a statement Monday night saying he wants Silver to take a "zero-tolerance" approach when it comes to Donald Sterling's purported comments about minorities, the AP reports. His statement said that Sterling had "offensive and feeble minded views."
  • The national NAACP announced Tuesday it wants a meeting with Silver to discuss Sterling and his alleged comments, the Associated Press reports — specifically "the influence and impact of racism in the National Basketball Association." It follows the organization's L.A. chapter withdrawing from offering Sterling a second NAACP lifetime achievement award.
  • The AP reported on key details about Sterling girlfriend V. Stiviano, 31. She's being sued by Sterling's wife over lavish gifts given to her by Sterling and has been identified as the woman heard on the audio. Sterling's wife's suit says Sterling and Stiviano met at the 2010 Super Bowl. Stiviano's birth name was Maria Vanessa Perez, but she changed it in 2010 and cited the reason in court documents as being "Born from a rape case and having yet been fully accepted because of my race." She was charged in 2012 with driving under the influence and pleaded no contest to a reckless driving charge in July.
  • Sterling can be seen in this video from the Clippers' website hosting a charitable function at the Beverly Hills Hotel this past December, as his Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation had pledged $20 million in grants and scholarships to a variety of organizations and schools, according to the article. Sterling can also be seen in this year-end charity video from several years earlier.
  • See the tax forms for Sterling's L.A. Clippers Foundation from fiscal years 2010-2012 below, one of Sterling's multiple charitable foundations:

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Los Angeles Clippers Foundation FY 2010 tax form

Los Angeles Clippers Foundation FY 2011 tax form

Los Angeles Clippers Foundation FY 2012 tax form

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Mike Roe with KPCC staff and the Associated Press

This story has been updated.

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