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Donald Sterling slammed with NBA lifetime ban

The NBA has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for racist comments made an audio tape.

The NBA has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life for racist comments made on an audio tape. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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Updated: April 29, 2014 6:50PM

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life and fined the maximum $2.5 million by the NBA on Tuesday, and the league’s owners will vote to decide whether to force him to sell the franchise.

In an audiotape recorded by girlfriend V. Stiviano and leaked Saturday, Sterling was quoted making racist statements.

“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said at a Manhattan press conference. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.”

Sterling cannot attend games or practices, league meetings or participate in NBA activities. The league’s longest tenured owner is not allowed to make business or player decisions for his team.

Voting to force Sterling to sell the team requires a three-quarters majority by his fellow owners. That process will “start immediately,” Silver said.

The $2.5 million fine will go toward charities devoted toward anti-discrimination causes.

Silver said the NBA investigated the audiotape and found that the voice was indeed that of the owner. The commissioner met with Clippers coach Doc Rivers, Clippers point guard Chris Paul and others throughout the league.

“I spoke to several owners, and I have their full support,” Silver said.

On the recording, Sterling criticized Stiviano for posting pictures of herself with African-Americans — including former Lakers star Magic Johnson — to Instagram.

Sterling said of black players: “I support them and give them food and clothes and cars and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have … Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game Is there 30 owners that created the league?”

Reaction around the country — from Michael Jordan to President Obama to Oprah Winfrey — was swift.

On Twitter Tuesday, Johnson said that “former and current NBA players are very happy and satisfied with commissioner Silver’s ruling,” and that “now let’s hope that the other 29 owners do the right thing.”

Former Bulls star Jordan, the Charlotte Bobcats owner, showed his approval in a statement.

“I applaud NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s swift and decisive response today,” he said. “He sent a powerful message that there can be zero tolerance for racism and hatred in the NBA.

“I’m confident that the league, our players and our fans will move on from this, stronger and more unified.”

On Twitter, Heat star LeBron James thanked Silver “for protecting our beautiful and powerful league.”

Former All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal praised the commissioner.

“Way to go, Commissioner Silver!” he wrote. “The NBA stands for everybody!”

In protest, the Clippers on Sunday wore their warm-up shirts inside out and left a pile of Clippers shooting shirts at midcourt. Other teams around the league have worn black socks in solidarity,

The Bulls have no such plan for tonight’s Game 5 against the Wizards.

“Right now, we’re focused on getting a win,” forward Taj Gibson said.

Bulls and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf released this statement:

“We completely support Commissioner Silver’s decision today regarding Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and praise him for his prompt investigation and action. The Commissioner was correct to ban Mr. Sterling from all official NBA business, to levy the stiffest allowable fine, and we will support his recommendation to press for Mr. Sterling to relinquish his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers franchise. We believe Commissioner Silver’s decision reflects the best interests of the NBA and public civility.

“The league’s decision underscores the severity and reprehensible nature of the comments attributed to Donald Sterling. These comments in no way reflect the attitude, values, and culture of the Bulls and White Sox organizations. This behavior cannot be tolerated in any form.”

In 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit. Two years later, he won a lawsuit brought forth by former general manager Elgin Baylor claiming racial discrimination.

Silver said the league did not consider Sterling’s past when meted out the lifetime ban, but the owners could consider his history when deciding whether to force him to sell the team.

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