NEW YORK (AP) — 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.
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, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.
He also cannot participate in any league business going forward. It's unclear how he will respond, and a lawsuit certainly seems possible.
"This league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach and any one player," Silver said.
The fine will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and the Players Association, Silver said.
"This has all happened in three days, and so I am hopeful there will be no long-term damage to the league and to the Clippers organization," Silver said. "But as I said earlier, I'm outraged so I certainly understand other people's outrage. This will take some time and appropriate healing will be necessary."
After the announcement, the Clippers' website had a simple message: "We are one," it read.
Corliss Williamson, former University of Arkansas star and University of Central Arkansas basketball coach now with the Sacramenton Kings, said via Twitter, "Adam Silver is a soldier! I am proud to be a member of the NBA family. It will take time, but it is the first step toward healing."