Updated Tuesday, April 29, 2:30 p.m: In his first ruling as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver confirmed that the voice heard on both recordings spewing racist hate was, in fact, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and has banned Sterling for life from all NBA events and facilities. Silver will also encourage members of the NBA board of governors to force Sterling to sell the team.
Silver condemned Sterling's hate-filled speech and apologized to NBA greats Bill Russell and Magic Johnson, among others. Silver stated that Sterling's ban is effective immediately and also issued a $2.5 million fine, the largest allowed under the NBA constitution.
Although many believed that Silver would only issue a large fine and would most likely ban Sterling for a year, he came down with the full force of his powers as commissioner. In that role, Silver cannot take the team away from Sterling, but he can lobby the board of governors to vote in favor of removing the Clippers from Sterling's control. In order for this to happen, Silver will need at least 22 of the 30 owners to vote to require Sterling to sell the franchise.
Here is the full transcript of Silver's statement.
Newly crowned NBA Commissioner Adam Silver finds himself at a crossroads barely two months into his new gig. So far he has said all the right things regarding the alleged recordings of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist rant. Silver promised due process, he promised he would move swiftly, he promised to find out if the tape was authentic, and now, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, he will announce his findings and his punishment.
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson has called for Sterling to be removed. LeBron James and Kobe Bryant have both said there is no place in the NBA for this kind of hatred. On Monday evening, Inside the NBA on TNT announcers Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley, Shaquille O'Neal and Ernie Johnson argued over what should happen to Sterling.
Barkley wanted Sterling to recognize the error of his ways and step down; Smith didn't see how a person who could spew such hatred could have a brain capable of sufficient logical thinking to make that decision. Shaq said that making $800 million for selling the team didn't seem like a punishment, and EJ asked which was better: Having Sterling in the league or making him richer while shipping him out?
This has become the debate: What do you do with an owner who hates the color of the skin of his employees?
That's what Adam Silver is up against. Can he legally punish Sterling for being morally corrupt?
According to ESPN's Outside the Lines, which got it hands on the NBA owners' "constitution," the answer is unequivocally yes.
1. Confirm that the voice heard on the recordings is owner Donald Sterling by having him testify under oath;
2. Issue an indefinite suspension and substantial fine;
3. Start termination of ownership of Sterling's franchise, but he would need three-fourths of the NBA's 30 owners to vote with him.
Obviously, Silver can do anything short of these decisions, such as a minimal suspension and fine, but with multiple players participating in silent protests around the league and scores of people coming out against Sterling's alleged comments, the weight of this decision and the tone of Silver's tenure sit squarely on his slim shoulders.
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