Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was banned for life by the NBA and fined $2.5 million for making racist comments.
Under the punishment laid down Tuesday, April 29 by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Sterling may not associate with the team or the league after it was determined that his was the voice making the racist rant, which included comments about black Jews in Israel. Along with the fine, Sterling will be pressured to sell the team.
“I will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team,” said Silver, who like Sterling is Jewish.
Sterling may not attend Clippers games or practices, and cannot enter any Clippers facility, Silver said. He also was barred from making business or player decisions and from NBA Board of Governors meetings or other activities.
Silver said the fine was the maximum allowed by the National Basketball Association. The money will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and anti-racism.
The commissioner, who is just two months into his tenure, said Sterling was interviewed during the investigation.
Silver called the remarks “deeply offensive and harmful” and said he was “personally distraught” that the remarks came from someone within the NBA organization. He said they had “no place in the NBA.”
TMZ had published a 10-minute recording of the rant on its website, saying the recording was a conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend. Extended audio from a conversation between a man identified as Sterling and his model girlfriend V. Stiviano was released by the website Deadspin in which Sterling is heard explaining that his views reflect the way the world works. As evidence, he says that black Jews in Israel “are just treated like dogs.”
Jewish groups have roundly criticized Sterling for his remarks.
Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, called the remarks “reprehensible.”
“We applaud those within and outside the NBA who have already spoken out on this issue. It is reassuring and affirming to know that such flagrant racism is so widely regarded as out of bounds,” Foxman said.
Sterling, the son of Jewish immigrant parents, allegedly tells his girlfriend, who is black and Mexican, not to be seen in public with black people or to post photographs of herself with black people on Instagram. He also tells her not to bring black people, including Magic Johnson, to his team’s basketball games.
His girlfriend is heard countering that as a Jew, Sterling should know better than to advocate discrimination, and she cites the Holocaust as an example of where racism can lead.
Johnson and others in the NBA community, notably Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls superstar and now an owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, have slammed Sterling’s remarks, as did President Obama in Malaysia over the weekend.
Amanda Susskind, ADL’s Pacific Southwest regional director, called on Sterling to reject the statements attributed to him.
“In Los Angeles, the most diverse major city in the country, we take as a point of pride that our leaders—in business, in government and in the community—embrace and accept this diversity without bias or bigotry,” Susskind said in a statement. “Both are suggested in the shocking language attributed to Mr. Sterling. We hope he disavows both the language and the sentiment behind it.”
The American Jewish Committee condemned the remarks and called on the NBA to take appropriate action against Sterling.
“Donald Sterling’s callous remarks regarding African Americans are a painful reminder that, 60 years after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, and 50 years after the enactment of the Civil Rights Act, there is still work to be done,” said AJC executive director David Harris. “And that someone so deeply involved in the NBA, which exemplifies the racial tapestry of our country, would think this way is all the more striking.”
The Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which had been scheduled to honor Sterling with a lifetime achievement award, said via Twitter that it had rescinded the award.
Sterling, a lawyer and real estate owner born Donald Tokowitz, bought the Clippers in 1981. He currently is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA. (JTA)