Three years ago today, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling “for life” after an audio clip surfaced on TMZ featuring the Los Angeles Clippers owner making extremely racist comments to his then girlfriend, V. Stiviano.
In the recording, the embattled team owner urged Stiviano to disassociate herself with Black people, not bring her Black friends to Clippers games and to refrain from posting photos of her and “minorities” such as Magic Johnson to her Instagram account.
In the recording, Sterling was specifically heard saying: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with Black people. Do you have to?”
The announcement of Sterling’s punishment was made in Manhattan at the New York Hilton Midtown. “We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views,” NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver said. “They simply have no place in the NBA.”
As part of Sterling’s ban, he may not attend any game or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.
“This league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach and any one player,” said Silver.
Silver also fined Sterling $2.5 million, which is the maximum amount allowed under the NBA’s constitution. The fine was donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that were jointly selected by the NBA and the Players Association. “The lifetime banning of Donald Sterling is a bold and appropriate action in this matter,” National Action Network founder Reverend Al Sharpton told me after the NBA’s Announcement.
“This is a huge victory for those of us that stood against this ugly display of racism. We must continue to make unequivocal stands against bigotry and racism. I look forward to speaking to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and beginning the dialogue with other civil rights leaders right away to discuss putting in measures to make sure this never happens again.”
Silver set the tone early in his tenure as commissioner and he’s stayed visible and consistent. Silver a recipient of Sports Business Journal’s 2015 Executive of the Year, beat the clock to rid Sterling and facilitated a $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers all the while warding off legal threats from Sterling.