UPDATE 10-NBA bans Los Angeles Clippers owner for life over racist comments

Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:50am EDT
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(Adds Clippers' victory in latest playoff game, paragraphs 5-6)

By Scott Malone and Larry Fine

NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - The NBA banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from professional basketball for life on Tuesday and fined him $2.5 million in an unprecedented rebuke for racist comments that drew outrage from players, fans, commercial sponsors and even President Barack Obama.

Sterling, 80, the longest-tenured owner of any of the 30 National Basketball Association teams, will be barred from any role in the operations of his franchise or from serving as one of the league's governors, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told a news conference in New York.

Silver also urged the other owners to vote to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, a first-time use of such a sanction that would require approval of three-quarters of the current owners.

Asked whether Sterling could end up as essentially an absentee owner if the league fails to force a sale of the team, Silver replied: "I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him."

The drama unfolded as the Clippers, long an NBA doormat overshadowed by the Los Angeles Lakers, were capping off their best season ever in a first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors of Oakland, California.

Apparently energized by the NBA's decision, which came two days after a stinging defeat in Oakland, the Clippers scored a 113-103 win on their home court over the Warriors on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Sterling controversy, which quickly grew into a national discussion of race relations transcending basketball, began over the weekend when the celebrity website TMZ.com released an audio recording of a voice, said to be Sterling's, criticizing a woman friend for "associating with black people."   Continued...