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Silver Bans Sterling For Life, Issues $2.5MM Fine

NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced a lifetime ban and a $2.5MM fine for Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The NBA’s investigation found that it was indeed Sterling expressing racially charged statements on a recording. Sterling has been fined the maximum amount allowable in the NBA’s constitution. Silver will urge the board of governors to force Sterling to sell the team, and the commissioner said he’ll “do everything in my power to ensure that happens.”

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles ClippersSterling admitted that it was his voice on the recording, Silver said, asserting that the NBA has the authority, with a vote of three quarters of the league’s owners, to force Sterling to sell. The effort to force him out will begin immediately, according to the commissioner, and he expects to receive the support from owners necessary to remove the longtime Clippers boss.

Silver believes the players will be satisfied with the decision, adding that he’s had multiple conversations with Kevin Johnson, who’s acting as the union’s voice during the Sterling saga. The NBA is not considering letting any of the Clippers out of their contracts, according to Silver.

The key response may come from Clippers coach and executive Doc Rivers, who’s expressed uncertainty about whether he’d return to the team if Sterling were to stay as owner. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports suggested earlier today that the Clippers players might follow his lead and ask for trades if Rivers were to leave.

Rumors have linked Magic Johnson to the team as a potential buyer, and Silver said today that Johnson is “always welcome as an owner in this league.” Johnson took to Twitter to express satisfaction with the NBA’s verdict.

The specter of a lawsuit from Sterling remains, and Silver said Sterling didn’t express remorse over his comments. Sterling, an attorney, is notoriously litigious, and there was speculation that the threat of a lawsuit would prompt Silver to opt for a light punishment.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images. Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, Chris Mannix of, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, Arash Markazi of, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck, Ken Berger of, and A. Sherrod Blakely of provided detail via Twitter.

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16 thoughts on “Silver Bans Sterling For Life, Issues $2.5MM Fine

  1. LordOfTheSwings

    What exactly is a “lifetime ban,” if in theory, if the owners don’t vote him out, he can still keep the team? (as far as I understand based on this article).

    Does the ban just mean he can’t attend games and such?

    • Gardy Vergne

      that’s what it looks like. Just banned from the team and the NBA meetings. He will still make $$ since he is still the owner I will say

      • Cad23

        It looks like the league will have no problem getting the votes, as Woj reports every owner appears to be on board with Silver.
        link to
        link to

    • Randolph_Knackstedt

      “Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA,” Silver said. “Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility. He may not participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He will also be barred from attending NBA Board of Governors meetings or participating in any other league activity.”

      One thing I don’t get is this

      “He may not participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.”

      Then how could he sell or hand down the team? Isn’t that a business decision involving the team?

      • HoopsRumors

        Good point, although it looks like the league would handle the sale: link to


        • Randolph_Knackstedt

          Chuck, thank you for the link. I was unaware the league could do that. Makes sense.


          • HoopsRumors

            No problem, Randolph! I imagine it would probably proceed along the same lines of the sale of the New Orleans franchise a few years back. Given how attractive a contending team in the country’s second-largest market will be to potential buyers, I think the process would move much more swiftly.


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