Silver acts swiftly, strongly against Sterling

By Lang Whitaker,

VIDEO: Silver on the hurt involved in the Sterling episode

NEW YORK — On Saturday morning, barely three months into his nascent tenure as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver was faced with a nightmare scenario. Approximately 72 hours later, at a tense press conference in midtown Manhattan, Silver responded as strongly as possible by announcing a lifetime ban against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

In addition to the ban, Silver announced a fine of $2.5 million, which will be donated to organizations devoted to tolerance and anti-discrimination. “We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views,” Silver said. “They have simply no place in the NBA.”

[Complete transcript of the Silver news  conference]

Sterling, the NBA’s longest-tenured owner, was found to have made racist remarks in a recording made public last weekend by A statement from Sterling, through the Clippers, challenged the authenticity of the tapes and the motives of the woman purportedly responsible for the tapes being released. At the very least, though, Sterling had a history involving issues of race, including settling a 2009 housing discrimination lawsuit.

The news broke Saturday morning. The NBA promised to investigate the tapes before making any decisions, which led to the 72-hour delay between the news breaking and Silver’s announcement.

In that time between, the story became nothing short of pervasive. Everyone from Sterling’s fellow owners to current and former NBA players to President Obama denounced Sterling. Clippers players made a statement prior to Game 4 on Sunday by wearing their team-issued warm-ups inside out. Other teams, including the Heat and Trail Blazers, have worn black socks as a show of solidarity with the Clippers players and coaches.

The Sterling story has undermined and at times overshadowed one of the most exciting starts to the NBA playoffs ever. It culminated today with an extraordinary press conference where questions came from outlets as diverse as the New York Times to “Inside Edition.” The packed room was silent in the build up to the announcement, and Silver’s late arrival mostly served to allow the tension to swell.

After announcing the ban, Silver explained how he came to the decision. Upon hearing the news Saturday morning, the NBA assigned David Anders from the law firm Wachtell Lipton to investigate the allegations. Anders spoke to several of the principles involved and determined that the voice on the tape did belong to Sterling. He concluded his investigation late Monday night.

In the meantime, Silver spoke to various league personnel, including some of those unwittingly swept up in the story, such as Clippers coach Doc Rivers and point guard Chris Paul.

As David Aldridge explained earlier, there was some doubt about how strong Silver’s reaction could be, given the limitations of the NBA’s constitution and bylaws. Silver seemed resolute that the punishment meted out was fully within the NBA’s rights: “We have the authority to react as I recommended.”

When asked why Sterling’s previous incidents involving racial issues never generated any punishments from the league, Silver explained that the NBA didn’t react with a fine or suspension because there were never any official findings of guilt. “I can’t speak to past actions except to say when specific evidence was brought to the NBA, we acted,” Silver said.

In the face of the lifetime ban, will Sterling be willing to sell the team? “I have no idea,” Silver said. He later added, “I fully expect to get the necessary support to remove [Sterling].”

“This will take some time,” Silver said, “and appropriate healing will be necessary.”

Three days in, Silver and the NBA responded in the strongest terms possible. Yet it’s worth remembering that with the possibility of legal wrangling ahead, this episode may not end anytime soon. For now, at least, Silver has had his say.


  1. Think about it says:

    Sterling can be a racist and say whatever the heck he wants. His freedom of speech has not been impacted or violated in any way, both privately and publicly.

    Notice how there aren’t any federal charges against what he said. All charges have been carried out by Silver and the NBA. Sterling is part of the NBA and has to oblige to its rules and bylaws. He also has the right to fight against the charges.

    Sterling was a negative image for the league and the playoffs were so good and close. Silver’s decision was ballsy and ultimately gave the majority of fans what they wanted. I agree with Silver and have no sympathy for Sterling (or his 2 billion dollars).

  2. Vincent says:

    Let me start by saying I think this penalty is fitting. There is no room in this world for racism and it needs to stop. But it needs to stop all the way across the board. I ask this question. If sterling is going to be banned for life for this, why is nothing being done to Larry Johnson for his comments about needing an all black league? Or Charles Barkley for his comments on the air about “this is a black league”. Or Jay Z, part owner of the Brooklyn Nets for having anti white lyrics in his music and wearing the symbol of an anti white organization to the games? Why have we hit a point in society where it seems only whites ate racist and any other race makes a comment and is just shoved under the rug?? If one guy is gonna be punished for it, all should be punished for it. Period.

  3. Chris Moore says:

    This women whatever the hell her name is nothing but a gold digger out to get some rich old senial guy who was probably in the same kkk chapter as al gores father and Robert KKK Bird. Also this women broke the law by releasing a PRIVATE conversation to the public which is ILLEGAL and she should be arrested and have to pay half of sterlings 2.5 million dollar fine for setting him up.

  4. Noel says:

    So with Shaqs comments, the NBA is okay with publicly making fun of someone that is physically disfigured from a diseas, but it’s not okay to make a private racist comment. This ruling is making a joke out of the league. Yes, what he said is wrong and makes him an idiot, but their are so many worse things that have happened that players should have been banned for. NBA needs to stop discriminating and handing out fair punishments.

  5. Brian says:

    I hope Mr. Silver is prepared to ban for life and fine $2.5 million the next player who utters a homophobic slur, or any other prjudicial statements, etc. Kobe Bryant did so a few years back and was not banned for life. Will this change in the future?

  6. Ross says:

    The Sterling’s 2 millions where do they end ?
    I would like to suggest to be used for the people he offended. The African Americans. NBA should give that money for after school programs of African American children living in poverty to play basketball and prevent juvenile crimes. Sterling should pay two millions yearly for as long as he lives.

  7. tima44444 says:

    Blown way out of proportion. If one guy makes this big of an impression on you, get out of the NBA.
    He made the comments in private, his personal opinion not to the public.
    If it was a problem with the players he would have been out a long time ago.
    This is taking away from the beautiful playoffs we are having this year!
    Great job to the big mouth fans for igniting this discussion and falling to public news, pat yourselves on the back!

  8. lets go mavs says:

    not backing the guy at all, because what he said was racist and completely wrong. at the same time tho, he was recorded illegally and and what ever someone says in private is private. this is being treated like he came out and said this publicly. a kid in school recently recorded a group bullying him and got into big trouble for illegally recording the event. priorities are wrong in this country. once again, not backing him…he will go to he!! full of hate, but i wanted to point out his constitutional rights being violated. what happened to the days of sticks and stones ppl? americans r ridiculous today. nobody can have an opinion because someone will be offended by words. if you do not like what he said then do what i am going to do, ignore him. its easy because they are just words. when he commits an actual hate crime, then we can have something to about other than the stupid opinion and some old hateful guy.

  9. indy says:

    glad this is over with. move on…i mean, clippers need to find a new home now… !
    anaheim would be good for them! start from fresh!…

  10. Edgars says:

    Where is LBJ i wonder…?
    Doesnt he want Sterling to Miami for future hall of fame Cole or whatever?

  11. I´m happy as a fan of basketball about measurement. And the way the issue has been facing. This is a good chance to learn from mistakes and no tolerate any kind of racism or any kind of discrimination for conditions of people.

  12. Gregg says:

    WOW! I guess we see what is important in the sports world. You can be strung out on drugs, you can beat your spouse, you can fight dogs, but don’t you dare make any offensive, repulsive comments! Wow!

  13. Darren says:

    Imagine judgment day when every idle word spoken by us all will be brought to light and judged by our Creator. What a day! (And no recording device will be needed!) For the NBA and commissioner Silver, I agree with this decision.

  14. pistol pete says:

    While I agree with some that the penalty seems a bit disproportionate, I agree with ALL that racism needs to end, especially in a great country like ours that was built by people of all races, colors and creeds. Enough said. I LOVE this game!

  15. Lamar Jr says:

    When all is said and done, Don Sterling is still the LA Clippers’ owner. Remember: he is a lawyer, and he will seek redress; mark my words.

    So Sterling made a racist comment. Big deal; who hasn’t?

    He was secretly recorded in a private conversation with someone; whoever THAT person was who recorded that convo… THAT is who the media, and the NBA, should tar and feather! Leave Sterling be.

    When one’s private thoughts are recorded for all to see and hear… that is something EVERYONE should fear, regardless your stand on him, or on racism, or whatever. Individual freedom should matter more. If it doesn’t matter to you, then you should start being concerned.

  16. Judith says:

    Excellent decision by Adam Silver! Although this was long over due, the NBA has stepped up now to make it right. Now they need to swiftly force him to sell. Zero tolerance for racisim. I am also very pleased that the $2.5 M fine will go to organizations that are dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts.

  17. Anthony says:

    I don’t like racial comments but let’s take a step backward on this matter,

    1. Is the recording obtained legally and placed legally? If not, all the charges should be dropped.

    2. Sterling did not make this conversation on “public” , this is a private conversation under emotional argumentation.
    How many of you here, did say something that you didn’t mean it to say to your wife, girlfriend, etc?

    (After all, freedom of speech is in question here)

    3. Could the girlfriend set up this recording purposely by someone who wanted to buy Clippers? More like a SET UP.

    Please don’t flame me, I’m just sharing my opinions. Again I don’t support racial comments or racial thoughts. But I thought these whole things are a bit outrageous. They need to clarify the whole situation first before making decision to ban him for life. After all, he owns the team and to me, I think someone wants to remove him by any means of necessary.

    and I bet magic Johnson and the rest of the people here made or say “racial comments” at least once in their life, the difference is, they don’t get caught.

  18. Durbeday says:

    And now no NBA owner can ever speak a word of ill to anyone in private about anything without being chastised publicly. This is stupid. Yes Sterling is ignorant and wrong. I feel the NBA is now lowered themselves even lower. Why not just say that owners are not entitled to their opinions on any matter nor can they expect private conversations with a family member to remain private.

  19. Jacky says:

    do not ruin our NBA playoffs. i am Chinese basketball and NBA fan and i thought this year NBA 1st round playoffs are the most spectacular in the history of NBA!

  20. Ken says:

    I have to say, I think the league jumped the gun here. This isn’t to say that Sterling isn’t a racist jerk, because it sounds like he is, but there had better be telling evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the voice on the recording was in fact Sterling’s or the league may be in for a rude awakening. There is a reason the US justice system works as it does, and you can’t accuse somebody of something by heresay without gathering all of the necessary evidence. Let’s hope this David Anders guy is good at his job.

    • Ken says:

      For example this is not a good thing for the league: “A statement from Sterling, through the Clippers, challenged the authenticity of the tapes and the motives of the woman purportedly responsible for the tapes being released.”

      And this means nothing: “At the very least, though, Sterling had a history involving issues of race, including settling a 2009 housing discrimination lawsuit.”

      To me, given the facts we’ve been given thus far, this is like watching a man rob a bank who someone says is John Doe, but this fact has not been verified. But because a lot of people hate John Doe and because everyone knows he robbed banks previously, we call him guilty.

      Again, I’m not defending Mr. Sterling, but I am defending his right to a fair judgement.

  21. Jason Hurtrron says:

    I strongly disagree with the punishment imposed on Dopnald Sterling as vindictive, harsh and excessive and I strrongly oppose any attempt to force Sterling to sell the team. Sterlin’g’s punishment was harsh and uncalled for. ADAM SILVER WAS WRONG AND PROVED YET AGAIN WHY I HATE THE NBA COMMISSIONER. DAVID STERN THE SECOND.

  22. getreal says:

    Anybody that thinks a private conversation with a cheating x is reason to call anyone anything needs to get their brains checked or look in the mirror to see the racist.

  23. Evens says:

    I agree with the decision of removing him as an owner and any position involving decision making in behalf of the league or a team. But personally, I think banning him from attending NBA games is a bit too harsh. Just because he’s a racist he can’t attend a Sporting event? Ex-con, registered sex offenders are not banned from doing that, and in my opinion his “crime” is not as serious. However I don’t know all the details of the case. I hope the commissioner has good reasons to do so. He interviewed Donald, we don’t know what went on there. Donald sounds like an ignorant who says whatever’s on his mind, he probably dug himself into a deeper hole in that interview. Anyway that’s my two cents….by the way I’m black.

  24. Jackinthebox says:

    Jesse Jackson, Al Shapton and Obama are the last persons that should complain about. The first do nothing to black people, and the last one plays de RACE CARD like nobody else in the States.

  25. JT says:

    Wow, I wish Silver was running the country, there were actually consequences here.

  26. tfmust says:

    I have attended many NBA games and support thisaction. Now maybe theNBA will take similar action when players use racist language such as white boy, cracker, etc.. This is common during games but not even a technical is called. I expect a full lifetime suspension of the next player using racist language.

  27. JimD54 says:

    Adam Silver tore the house down in one day while Stern put up with Sterling for decades knowing what kind of man he was. Adam is the MAN, where can I buy HIS jersey…….

  28. Robin says:

    Now everybody knows that racist is a bomb, but discrimination is everywhere and was enforced by US laws. Wish it won’t need to take 50 more years for us to give justice to those.

  29. robert says:

    I am through with the NBA. I do not agree with Sterling’s point of view, but when did it become illegal to be a complete jerk.
    These comments were made in the privacy of his own home. Have you never had a rant at home about ANYTHING that would not be fit for public consumption? Very dangerous precedent to set. Thought police. Think exactly as we think, or else! So much for diversity.

  30. cp10 says:

    The show must go on, swift action = more ticket receipts 🙂 KA-CHING!

  31. Rick says:

    At this point it doesn’t matter what was said or by whom, what matters is that this knee jerk reaction by the NBA was brought on by what can be considered a privileged conversation illegally recorded and disseminated by someone to make headlines. That said it is my belief that the NBA taking the action so quickly shows that they are more interested in loosing a few fans than doing what is right and correct. I’m not saying that disciplinary action isn’t warranted, but be sure you are in the right prior to taking the action.

  32. Boots says:

    The most inconsequent decision in the history of sports. Imagine this happening every time someone makes comments in PRIVATE.

  33. Aaron says:

    This if for anyone saying that Sterling should not have to sell his team? Would you work for someone that though of you this way? Would you go to games and support an owner that thought this way? Of course he has to go.

    If you don’t think so, that says everything about who you are.

  34. Anthony Mariano says:

    This might be Silver’s high point as commish, did a great job banning that jerk from the league.

  35. mauro says:

    Anyway this thing that his ex girlfriend tapes him and sends the tape to a broadcast agency is terrifying… really is the end of privacy…….I just see hypocrisy all around this sad episode……of course NBA needs to stand and condemn the episode now but they knew he was a racist and why didnt they take action before? Why only after an ex girlfriend who obviously wants to take revenge brings a tape illegaly recorded……hypocrisy all over the place.

    • Game Time says:

      End of privacy? Hmmm you don’t think keeping your private thoughts to yourself could have saved him a whole lot of trouble? He voiced his dislike of black people to a person who is half black.

      • kobe24 says:

        Actually his girlfriend never said she was black until the recording , so I agree it’s the end of privacy for a man getting rattled by a gold digger.

  36. MADOCHE says:

    I was saying that today should be my last day as an NBA fan but no.
    I’m just so proud again to remain a Bastketball fan.
    No room for racism

  37. Jon says:

    Let’s bring them to Buffalo!

  38. Gadfly says:

    Well done Silver! Swift and incredibly appropriate.

  39. Miguel Bordalo says:

    This made me proud to be an NBA fan.

    • kobe24 says:

      Lol you people are very ignorant , your proud to be an NBA fan huh ? Are you proud when Hibbert said theN word during a post game interview and only was fined, were you proud when many nba players call white players cracker , were you proud when players overdose on drugs on get just get a game suspension. Don’t make me even get started on the nfl. Conclusion , Are you really proud for the NBA banning Sterling while invading the privacy of his home ?

  40. Eric says:

    Not that there shouldn’t have been a severe penalty but to be banned for life from a game that he is an owner is over the top. I sure hope Silver and Kevin Johnson never say anything off color or in a bad light and have it recorded for the world to hear and we will see the punishment when this does happen.

    • deauonte johnson says:

      Eric you sound sooooo stupid due to the fact of tour immaturity in your post. You dont know basketball obviously number 1. 2 you are racist. What happened happened and it was wrong. Theres no way you or anybody else can justify the situation or say anything about the punishment! Great job commisioner and everyone who supported this move!

    • cp10 says:

      Good points Eric, banned for life isn’t such a big deal for an 80 year old, not much lifespan left. Yeah, the privacy issue isn’t even being addressed, it looks like mob rule is in effect but it seems NBA people want him ousted regardless so that’s that.

  41. me says:

    When you start charging the black players for the same thing i might agree with your claim. That so called woman needs to be prosecuted. Really? al Sharpten and Jesse Jackson should be in jail for the same thing.

    • sean brown says:

      This was the right thing to do, and what’s scary is that both sides of the issue are missing the point. It doesn’t matter that Sterling was setup anymore than it mattered that Marion Barry was setup. An injustice was exposed that was 20 years in the making. Sterling was banned not because of what he said, but because of what it possibly could have done to the league. The players collectively were prepared to boycott, and as well they should. For once, people of color excerised strength beyond a hoodie or a reversed warm up shirt. If we, as people of color continue to allow these type of injustcies to go on, than we desereve what ever happens to us. Those men who signed the decelaration of Independence did so under great duress understanding that they were risking their lives, the lives of their family members and their livlihood for what they believed was right. This, was the right thing to do.

    • Dbo says:

      Sounds like your related to Sterling

    • Game Time says:

      What exactly have the players done that is similar to this? Do tell.

      • kobe24 says:

        Sterling supposedly said he didn’t want his girl friend coming to games with minorities, and the players respond by not wanting Sterling coming to their games. Then NBA responds by banning him from all of the NBA.

  42. Jpark says:

    What does this “BAN” actually mean? He can’t own the team? He can’t attend games? What exactly?

    If he owns the team, he owns it. I can’t imagine he has to sell the team because of this.

    • Bob says:

      Read the article…

      • ko0kiE says:

        it doesn’t say what happens if he’s unwilling to sell the team.. will the clippers be excluded from the nba or what? they can’t forjudge him, can they? i mean we’re talking about an enterprise worth 500+ million dollars here..

  43. Zac says:

    As long as nobody brings Putin to a game, everything will be fine.

  44. Jeff B says:

    Move the Clippers to Seattle!!!

    • Sofa_King says:

      Seattle can have the Clippers, we Laker fans have wanted them gone for years. They are a disgrace to the city of LA. All because of Donald Sterling. It used to be for the reason he wouldn’t spend any money on the team, nobody wanted to play for them, and now this. Please go Clippers

  45. Mitchell Diamond says:

    Thanks, Commish Silver, for doing the right thing. You got this foul call right!

  46. McKinley says:

    The Clippers should have never been gifted Chris Paul. I think as part of the punishment Chris Paul should be sent to the Lakers along with Blake Griffin.

  47. X says:

    Sterling had it coming.

    • matt says:

      this reactions is over the top. it shows me the immaturity of the americans and their social standards…..same thing as death penalty and shooting people for self defense…THIS IS NOT A PROPER SOLUTION!