Donald Sterling's life ban roundly applauded

Los Angeles Clippers owner is read riot act over his racist comments, as the 80-year-old's punishment marks 'a great day for the United States'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 2014, 9:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 May, 2014, 10:23am

NBA commissioner Adam Silver's swift action against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling over his racist comments drew positive reactions from Hall of Fame basketball player Magic Johnson and Adidas on Wednesday.

Silver delivered the swiftest, strongest penalty he could, then called on NBA owners to force Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments that hurt the league.

Johnson said the decision to ban Sterling for life from any association with the NBA for making racist comments marks "a great day for the United States".

Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multi-ethnic league
Adam Silver

German sportswear firm Adidas reinstated its partnership with the Clippers after the National Basketball Association banned Sterling.

Silver said on Tuesday that the 80-year-old would be barred from any role in the operations of his franchise or from serving as one of the league's governors.

"We fully support the league's decision. As a long-term partner of the NBA, we are proud that the commissioner is taking serious action to ensure prejudice is not tolerated," Adidas said.

Almost unanimously, owners supported the commissioner as he handed down one of the harshest penalties in the history of US sports. "We stand together in condemning Mr Sterling's views. They simply have no place in the NBA," Silver said.

Sterling was banned for life from any association with the league or the Clippers, and was fined US$2.5 million - the maximum allowable under the NBA constitution. If three-quarters of the other 29 owners agree to Silver's recommendation, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.

Most NBA ownership groups contacted said they would vote to force Sterling to sell his club.

Team spokesman Seth Burton said the Clippers had no plans to issue a statement from Sterling, but they released a statement "wholeheartedly" supporting Silver's decision.

After the announcement, the Clippers' website featured only a simple message: "We are one."

The mantra was repeated on the team's public address system and chanted by their fans several times during their play-off game yesterday, a cathartic 113-103 win over the Golden State Warriors.

Players and civil rights leaders alike cheered Silver's quick action. Players' union officials said if the punishment had not included a mandate for Sterling to sell the team, players were considering boycotting the play-offs.

The Clippers received raucous cheers when they took the court.

Two days earlier, they dumped their warm-up jerseys in a pile at centre court in a gesture of defiance against their owner.

Chris Paul, the Clippers' All-Star point guard and the president of the players' union, said: "In response to today's ruling by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver, my teammates and I are in agreement with his decision … he has our full support."

Paul then had 20 points, seven assists and six rebounds as the Clippers won game five and moved within one win of the franchise's third play-off series victory.

Sterling's comments - which were recorded by his girlfriend and released by TMZ on Saturday - harmed the league, Silver said.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling asks the woman on the recording.

Silver said: "Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multi-ethnic league."

Associated Press, Reuters