The NBA has fined Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling $2.5 million and banned him for life for his racist remarks he made to an ex-girlfriend during an audio tape recording.
The recording of Sterling has surfaced, and the punishment was one of the most severe that has ever been imposed in professional sports history. The ban prohibits Sterling from attending any games or team practices. Sterling is also unable to have any association with the Clippers organization or with the NBA. This also raised the distinct possibility that Sterling may be forced to sell the team.
Sterling has owned the Clippers since purchasing it in 1981. In 1984, Sterling moved the Clippers franchise from San Diego to Los Angeles. At the time, the move was not approved by the NBA, which later fined him $25 million. He later sued the league for $100 million, but ultimately dropped the suit when the league agreed to lessen the fine to $6 million.
This is not Sterling’s first brush with trouble. In August 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination in using race as a factor in filling some of his apartment buildings. The suit argued that Sterling refused to rent to non-Koreans and to African Americans living in the Beverly Hills, Calif. area.
A November 2009 ESPN report shows that he agreed to a $2.73 million settlement with the victims. In 2009, Sterling was also sued by former Clippers executive Elgin Baylor for employment discrimination on the basis of Baylor’s age and race.
The Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also cancelled its plans to award Sterling with a second lifetime achievement award in May.
Today, Sterling is now the longest-tenured owner in the NBA. His team is valued at $575 million according to Forbes magazine. This ranks them eighteen out of the thirty teams in the NBA. The Clippers have notable NBA players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on their current roster. Paul and Griffin recently signed long-term contract to remain with the Clippers.
Clippers’ point guard Chris Paul, who is also current president of the NBA Players’ Association, has decided to keep his team focused on the playoffs.
“As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and the drive to the Finals,” Paul said.
The announcement of the sanctions came just before the start of Game 5. The Clippers took a 3-2 series lead after a victory over the Golden State Warriors. The Clippers eventually won the series in seven games.
Sterling didn’t make the situation any easier when he interviewed with Anderson Cooper of CNN.
He spoke out in an attempt to settle the tide. However, his attempt was an epic fail.
He made remarks about being “baited” into making racist remarks by V Stiviano, who was recording the conversation. He also made remarks about Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Sterling stated that he didn’t believe Johnson was a good example for the children of Los Angeles because he acquired HIV. He also said, “Jews. When they get successful, they will help their people. Some of the African-Americans, they don’t want to help anybody.” He admitted during the interview that these statements could get him in more trouble. But that didn’t stop him.
Reports have also surfaced that Sterling has prostate cancer. The reports also say that he has been fighting it for a period of time.
The most intriguing storyline going forward is who will own the Clippers. The NBA’s board of governors will try to force Donald Sterling to sell the team. To do so, would require the consent of 22 of the other 29 NBA team owners.
If Sterling is forced to sell the team, there will be a new owner of the Clippers. Boxing superstars Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya are interested in buying the Clippers. Even television star Oprah Winfrey is also rumored to be interested in buying the Clippers.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has recently agreed to allow his wife Shelly Stein to negotiate a forced sale of the team. Stein and her lawyers have been negotiating with the NBA since her husband was banned for life by NBA commissioner Adam Silver on April 29. The NBA had filed charges to terminate Sterling’s ownership of the Clippers this week. A hearing was set for June 3 in New York, with a vote by the full Board of Governors to take place afterwards.