The tape was authenticated, the words were his, and the hammer came down. Hard.
Billionaire Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from the NBA on Tuesday over his racist comments in a tape-recorded conversation with a woman alleged to be his mistress.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at a news conference.
Sterling, 80, who has owned the team for more than 30 years, also was fined $2.5 million and will face pressure to sell the Clippers, said Silver.
“We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling’s views,” said the commissioner. “They simply have no place in the NBA.”
The decision was immediately hailed on social media by past and present NBA players:
Sterling, a real estate magnate, is heard on the recording telling a woman identified as V. Stiviano, 30, that he didn’t want her to “bring black people to his games,” including basketball legend Magic Johnson. The recording was posted last weekend by TMZ.
Sterling’s wife of 50 years, Rochelle Sterling, is suing Stiviano for millions of dollars in gifts and cash that Sterling allegedly lavished on the younger woman over the last four years.
A source close to Stiviano denies a romantic relationship and characterizes her as Sterling’s personal assistant who recorded the conversation for his archives. Her lawyer denies that she leaked the tape.
Silver said that as part of an NBA investigation, Sterling was interviewed and that the voice on the tape was confirmed to be his.
For more on V. Stiviano, the woman at the center of the Donald Sterling racism scandal, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE magazine, on newsstands Friday