Updates from Monday, May 19
Howard Beck of Bleacher Report broke down the latest developments in the NBA's efforts to remove Donald Sterling as owners of the Clippers:
NBA announces it has "initiated a charge" vs. Donald Sterling, thus starting process to force him to relinquish ownership of Clippers.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 19, 2014
Sterling has until May 27 to respond to charge. Hearing will be held June 3. Owners can oust Sterling with 3/4 vote.— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 19, 2014
Per NBA statement, Sterling "engaged in conduct that has damaged and continues to damage the NBA and its teams."— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 19, 2014
NBA says Sterling actions "significantly undermine...efforts to promote diversity and inclusion" and "damage NBA’s relationship w/its fans"— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) May 19, 2014
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million following an investigation into alleged racist comments he made over the phone to his ex-girlfriend, V. Stiviano.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the penalties at a press conference on Tuesday, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
Adam Silver: "I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA"— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) April 29, 2014
The fine levied against Silver is the maximum allowed under the league's constitution, via Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
SIlver also has fined Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under the NBA Constitution.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) April 29, 2014
Silver said he will urge the NBA Board of Governors to force a sale of the Clippers, which would require a 75 percent approval vote, via Berger:
Silver: "I will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) April 29, 2014
Robert Baum of the Associated Press indicates there is already an owner who has announced which way he'll vote:
Suns owner Robert Sarver tells AP he will vote to force Donald Sterling to sell Clippers.— Robert Baum (@Thebaumerphx) April 29, 2014
Silver announced that the NBA concluded its investigation with the belief that it was Sterling's voice on the audiotape, via Berger:
Adam Silver: NBA investigation concluded that the comments on the recording were Donald Sterling's.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) April 29, 2014
Sterling confirmed it was his voice on the tape, via ABC news:
More: Clippers owner Donald Sterling acknowledged it was his voice on the tape— ABC News (@ABC) April 29, 2014
Silver made it clear the league stood together in its opposition of the owner:
Silver: "We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views. They simply have no place in the NBA."— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) April 29, 2014
Finally, Silver expressed the hope that no long-term damage would come to the league or the Clippers organization, via Adam Zagoria of SNY.com and Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
"I'm hoping there will be no long-term damage to the league or the Clippers organization." Adam Silver.— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 29, 2014
Silver says if a player does not want to play for the Clippers "we'll deal with that" - did not expect that to be an issue.— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) April 29, 2014
Following the announcement, messages of support came in from around the league:
Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2014
I agree 100% with Commissioner Silvers findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) April 29, 2014
NBPA Vice President Roger Mason said that players were prepared to boycott playoff games had Silver not levied the punishments that he did, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:
NBPA VP Roger Mason said the players were prepared to boycott all playoff games tonight if the NBA didnt at min force Sterling to sell LAC.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 29, 2014
While Mason is happy with today's decision, just removing Donald Sterling won't be enough, according to Spears:
NBPA VP Roger Mason told Yahoo that Donald Sterling's wife or any other family member taking over for LAC is not acceptable. New owner only.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 30, 2014
Chris Paul briefly spoke about Silver's decision, via Markazi:
CP3: "In response to today’s ruling by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver, my teammates and I are in agreement with his decision."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 30, 2014
CP3: "We appreciate the strong leadership from Commissioner Silver and he has our full support."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 30, 2014
The Clippers changed their team website following the news, issuing a statement of unity before Game 5 vs. Golden State, via ESPN's SportsCenter:
The organization also refused to issue a statement, via Markazi:
Clippers won't be issuing a statement from Donald Sterling. "He's not a part of the team anymore."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 29, 2014
On April 25, TMZ Sports reported that it had Sterling on tape chastising Stiviano for "associating with black people" in public and through social media. He sounded particularly upset that she would invite Magic Johnson to attend Clippers games.
Johnson reacted swiftly to Sterling's comments:
TMZ reported this morning that Clippers owner Donald Sterling doesn't want me or other African-Americans to come to Clippers games.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
.@cjbycookie and I will never go to a Clippers game again as long as Donald Sterling is the owner.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2014
Harriet Ryan of the LA Times provided Stiviano's reaction:
V. Stiviano, the woman at the center of the Donald Sterling scandal, said she was “very saddened” by the NBA’s decision to ban him from the sport for life, her attorney said Tuesday.
V. Stiviano “never wanted any harm to Donald,” Calabasas lawyer Mac Nehoray of Calabasas told The Times.
He said the 31-year-old is still reeling from the release of the recordings in which Sterling chastises her for associating with African Americans, including Magic Johnson. He said that “someone released it for money” but it wasn’t Stiviano.
“My client is devastated that this got out,” he said.
The league opened an investigation on April 27, per ESPN.com. At the time, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said:
We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by TMZ. The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information.
Since then, multiple companies have cut ties with the organization, including Red Bull, Kia, Virgin America and Adidas, per various sources:
Red Bull is suspending "all team-related marketing activities" with the Clippers but will continue to support Blake Griffin.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 28, 2014
KIA: We are suspending our advertising and sponsorship activations with the Clippers— Ryan Ruggiero (@RyanRuggiero) April 28, 2014
Virgin America: We have made the decision to end our sponsorship of the L.A. Clippers— Ryan Ruggiero (@RyanRuggiero) April 28, 2014
Adidas says its suspending Clippers marketing plans. What does that mean? No adi logo on warmups tonight?— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) April 29, 2014
Sterling's remarks have been met with universal scorn, especially considering this isn't the first time his insular and outdated beliefs have come to light. Deadspin's Timothy Burke compiled the racist comments the Clippers owner has made in the years leading up to this incident.
Former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor said that he had to endure over two decades of Sterling's racism, via ESPN's Max Bretos:
Former Clipper GM Elgin Baylor on Donald Sterling. "Myself and other people of color were subjected to this mentality for over 20 years."— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) April 26, 2014
On Monday, head coach Doc Rivers admitted that he declined to speak with Sterling about the situation, per ESPN's Arash Markazi:
Doc passed on talking to Sterling: "Right now is not the time or the place so I took a pass."— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 28, 2014
Earlier on, Rivers also voiced how upset he was with Sterling and indicated that some of the players discussed—albeit briefly—boycotting games, per Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears:
Doc Rivers: "were not happy with any of it. Were going to let the due process happen." Doc added that "it upsets me and upsets this team."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 26, 2014
Doc Rivers says the Clippers will play Golden State in Game 4. Rivers called it "a distraction."— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 26, 2014
Doc Rivers: "JJ Redick was just pissed as Chris Paul." Clippers talked it out in pre practice meeting. Boycotting brought up. Doc against it— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 26, 2014
Chris Paul, who is the president of the National Basketball Players Association, released a statement on the NBPA's official website shortly after the audio was leaked:
On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively. We have asked Mayor Kevin Johnson to expand his responsibilities with the NBPA, to determine our response and our next steps. As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and a drive to the Finals.
CSNBayArea.com's Ray Ratto was among many who compared this situation to what former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott faced back in 1996:
This is about the time some intrepid baseball writer points out that Marge Schott got suspended/eased out over Hitler remarks in 1996.— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) April 26, 2014
In an interview on ESPN, via the Chicago Tribune, Schott said of Adolf Hitler, "Everybody knows he was good at the beginning but he just went too far." That was four years after a similar incident in which she admitted to having a swastika armband at her home.
Political analyst Jeff Greenfield pointed out that Major League Baseball didn't take the Reds from Schott outright, but it made her position so untenable that she had no other recourse but to relinquish control, which she did in 1999:
Schott was suspended for two years, was threatened with another---she was essentially forced to sell the Reds, NBA can't do any less.— Jeff Greenfield (@greenfield64) April 26, 2014
Nate Jones of Goodwin Sports wondered if the NBA will ultimately try the same tactic with Sterling:
I have a feeling Sterling will get the Marge Schott treatment. Can’t be forced to sell, but won’t be allowed to be w/ team/ @ arena— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) April 26, 2014
Zach Lowe of Grantland had more on how the sale of the Clippers might work:
League sources say Silver/league, not Sterling, would control Clips sales process in event Silver gets the required 3/4 vote to force it.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) April 29, 2014
Silver was presented with a monumental decision barely three months into his tenure as NBA commissioner. His disciplinary action against Sterling sets the tone for the rest of his time at the helm and will undoubtedly be a part of his eventual legacy.
Clippers fans, and sports fans in general, will be pleased to move on from this ugly incident. All things considered, it's likely just a matter of time before Sterling is forced to relinquish ownership of the Clippers.