NBA moves to expel Clippers owner from basketball for racist remarks

Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:00am EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES, April 30 (Reuters) - Now that the NBA has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from pro basketball for life over racist comments the league says he acknowledged making, it's up to fellow team owners to back an unprecedented move to force a sale of his franchise.

Left uncertain, however, is whether the other owners will take that step. Some experts said Sterling's peers might be leery of action they felt could jeopardize their own property rights in the future. Also unclear is whether Sterling will fight the ban in the court.

Sterling was forced out on Tuesday after two websites released audio recordings over the weekend of a voice said to be his, criticizing a woman friend for "associating with black people." In it, he asks her not to invite former Los Angeles Lakers star Earvin "Magic" Johnson to Clippers games.

News of the recordings drew outrage from players, fans, politicians and commercial sponsors, several of whom said they were cutting ties with the team, even after the NBA moved to expel Sterling.

The scandal quickly grew into a national discussion of race relations transcending basketball. On Tuesday, it led National Basketball Commissioner Adam Silver to prohibit Sterling from any ties with the Clippers organization or the league as a whole and bar him from ever again attending NBA games or practices.

Sterling, the longest-tenured of the NBA's 30 owners, also is excluded from any team business or player personnel decisions and has been stripped of his seat on the league's board of governors, Silver told a news conference in New York City.

Moreover, the league fined Sterling $2.5 million, its maximum monetary penalty, and the commissioner called on the league's governing board of fellow owners to act immediately to force Sterling to sell the club he bought 33 years ago.

Such a move, requiring a vote by three-fourths of Sterling's peers, would mark the strongest such rebuke of an NBA owner in league history and is almost unheard of in U.S. pro sports.   Continued...