Donald Sterling backtracks on selling Clippers

The NBA will have to fight to rip the LA Clippers from owner Donald Sterling, who said Tuesday he will not willingly sell his basketball team.

League Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the NBA for life today and hit him with a $2.5million fine after the 80-year-old was heard making racist statements on audio recordings with his mistress. The ban and fine were the harshest punishment Silver could take out against Sterling.

While Silver can’t personally force Sterling to sell his team, the NBA Board of Governors can and he advised the conglomerate of team owners to do so at the press conference.

But just before Silver spoke, Sterling told Fox that the team wasn’t on the market and with an estimated net worth of $1.9billion, the fine is unlikely to force Sterling to sell if he really wants to keep his team. Only a three-quarters vote from the Board of Governors could do that, and there’s already been an outpouring of support from team owners on the plan.

According to Paragraph 13 of the NBA Constitution, 23 of the 29 owners would have to vote Sterling out in order to force him to sell.

The order was announced Tuesday afternoon at a long-awaited press conference where the head of the NBA revealed their official punishment for the LA Clippers owner.

‘Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility. He may not participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team. He will also be barred from attending NBA Board of Governors meetings or participating in any other league activity,’ the league’s commissioner Adam Silver said Tuesday. He ‘may not attend NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility.’

Silver said he will ‘urge the Board of Governors… to force a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to make sure that happens’.

Every team in the league responded to the press conference, with either statements posted on their websites or tweets from managing owners.

The comments were overwhelmingly in favor of Silver’s decision, but ranged from general statements to more passionate calls to action.

‘The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,’ Silver said.

The announcement came after three days of speculation following the release of a recording where Sterling is heard berating his mixed-race girlfriend for bringing black people to basketball games.

Silver, who is only three months into his role as the NBA Commissioner, said that the NBA quickly launched an investigation into the tape when it was released on Saturday morning and that they interviewed the 80-year-old owner.

He confirmed that it became clear that the voice on the tape ‘(was) Mr Sterling and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr Sterling.’

‘I was hoping somehow that it was fraudulent or had been doctored,’ Silver said.

When asked if Sterling apologized or showed any remorse for his racist comments, Silver said: ‘Mr Sterling has not expressed those views directly to me.’

The fine will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and the Players Association, Silver said.

The indefinite suspension and hefty fine are two of the harshest punishments that the NBA is allowed to levy against the owner, and they were met with immediate praise.

‘Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life,’ Magic Johnson wrote on his Twitter account shortly after the announcement.

‘Former and current NBA players are very happy and satisfied with Commissioner Silver’s ruling.’

Johnson’s thoughts were particularly relevant since he was at the center of the scandal: the recorded conversation focused on a problem Sterling had with his girlfriend posing for photos with the former LA Lakers star.

‘Now the Clippers players and fans can concentrate on the game tonight against the Warriors with Commissioner Silver’s decision,’ he wrote.

‘Current and former NBA players now know that in Commissioner Adam Silver we have a great leader leading our league.

‘Now let’s hope that the other 29 owners do the right thing.

‘The people who I’m happiest for are Coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers players and fans.’

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