NBA Commissioner Fines Racist L.A. Clippers Owner Donald Sterling $2.5 Million, Bans Him for Life


NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has banned L.A. Clippers owner from any NBA activities for life and has fined him $2.5 million. Silver made the announcement in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

SterlingSaid Silver: “Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA,” Silver said. “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. … He will also be barred from attending Board of Governors meetings.”

Silver also said he would push Sterling to sell the Clippers.

Sterling came under fire over the weekend after a recording surfaced of him telling his girlfriend V. Stiviano not to associate with black people or bring them to his games.

The Clippers released this statement on the team website:



  1. UFFDA says

    O and O again for Ouch. A public figure with a big mouth is a public figure with fewer figures to count.

  2. Jonathan says

    I’d hate to be a downer, but how has justice been served when he has the possibility of selling the Clippers for – at the very least – $750 million? He is also a real estate mogul, so his interests don’t lie solely with the NBA.

    Two and a half million is a pittance to people like this. He’s 80, and he’ll be laughing all the way home, where he’ll watch the games on his 300-inch TV.

  3. Mitch says

    Yes, it was free speech. To those who will undoubtedly complain that his rights were violated, they weren’t. He wasn’t arrested for speaking his mind – that’s the protection of free speech. He continues to be free to express his bigotry.

    Fortunately free speech is not without consequences! Kudos for the NBA taking swift, bold, and appropriate action.

  4. melvin says

    The first amendment guarantees my right to say anything short of “fire” in a crowded theater. It says nothing about other people having to listen to my stupid ass ravings, or having to associate themselves with me.

  5. Kieran says

    Next step, get rid of any homophobic sport team owners. This sets the precedent for future action.

  6. TKinSC says

    So what exactly is the point of “fining” him if you’re going to ban him from the league?

    That’s like giving someone the death penalty and a fine on top of it.

  7. jjose712 says

    Well, i suppose Andrew Sullivan will defend this man’s bigotry because he didn’t discriminate his black employees

  8. Derrick from Philly says

    LOL @ “That’s like giving someone the death penalty and a fine on top of it.”

    You’re absolutely right, TKINSC. Make them suffer financially after they’re dead. But there still may be the chance of getting Disabilty payments…maybe short term.

  9. Robert says

    The other NBA owners have to be *terrified* over this sort of thing. I mean, hell, I know the sorts of things I’ve done on video or said in a text. YIKES.

  10. m.r. says

    Andrew Sullivan has written a response claiming that this was right because Sterling is a true bigot but Eich wasn’t because even though Ecih contributed to Prop 8 we couldn’t see into his heart to see why he did.

  11. says

    If what I heard about him being secretly recorded, I’m not sure if the NBA has any grounds to enforce either penalty. If this was a private conversation and he wasn’t aware he was being recorded, the tape wouldn’t be allowed in any legal case. So if he were to challenge the NBA, he could probably easily get out of paying the $2.5 million fine, although I think the NBA still can arbitrarily ban anyone without really giving any reason, let alone a good one.

    I’m not defending this guy, but trying to have the right thing done using unscrupulous means doesn’t make what you’re doing “right.” Using despicable methods to punish despicable people makes you just as despicable and you should face the same punishment you brought onto the other person.

  12. anon says

    Why is anyone listening to AS on this? He’s never consistent in anything except in saying that he’s never wrong.

    This is an interesting announcement, but probably not legally enforceable for the most part. Owners have so many rights that essentially he could sue for a lot of damages and tie the league up in knots. I’m not even sure they could ban the Clippers from playing, which would have been the most straightforward penalty. Sterling’s going to sue or come to some settlement and perhaps it will be hush-hush but probably little of this will stand up in court. The NBA is a group of owners that agree to certain things as a group, and probably one of the things they agree on is to not devalue each others franchises.

  13. simon says

    His wife seems to be OK with the fact that he is openly keeping a mistress. NOM seems to have nothing to say about the “sanctity of marriage” in this case.

  14. Andy says

    I’m sure the players have never said anything racist or homophobic in their lives before.

    And no one has a problem with people illegally recording one another.


  15. Derrick from Philly says

    @ “I’m sure the players have never said anything racist or homophobic in their lives before.”

    Well, the players don’t want to run plantaions, darling.

    And I really don’t care about this news story al ALL. LOL


  16. northalabama says

    @andy – there’s one sure way not to get caught and avoid suffering the consequences: don’t say it. he signed a contract with the nba and agreed to abide by their decisions.

    andrew sullivan is misguided if he believes the eich and sterling controversies as unrelated.

  17. Macguffin54 says

    I hate any kind of intolerance and I hope the other owners do vote him out of the NBA for his ignorant views, because who wants to be associated with him or have the NBA be linked to his antiquated views? But fining him for something he said in the privacy of his own home?? Banning him from attending games?? I’m not aware people can be turned away from buying a ticket and attending a game unless there is something like a restraining order in place. Also, regarding this and the guy from Mozilla who was forced out of the company for his homophobia, I am not sure it is the right thing to do to force into unemployment people who beliefs we don’t agree with. On the one hand I know I would not want people to associate my company with these horrible views, but everyone is entitled to make a living. And it’s not as though, I don’t believe, they were publicly espousing their views. One made a private donation and the other spoke racist things in his home. (I understand the Sterling also has a horrible past, but per Silver–Sterling Silver?–who is banning him for life, this punishment is only for his recent statements.) The problem with militant political correctness is you force everyone to act the right way and so only blanket the issues and have these horrible people pretending to be good people and then you don’t know who to trust. Conservatives (like but not specifically Palin, Romney, O’Reilly…) keep saying they are not racist or homophobic and “denounce” people who are intolerant but only because they are “supposed” to act that way because it is politically correct. It doesn’t make them better people, it just makes it harder to tell who the good people are. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter how horrible it is, and as long as they are keeping it private I don’t know that it is right to be directly penalizing them for their beliefs. Again, don’t get me wrong, Sterling is a creep and I wish he never got rich and made it to this level of success, and it’s people like him you’d like to see “on the way down”. But this doesn’t entirely feel like the right way to go about it.

  18. Andy says

    I didn’t realize making millions shooting a ball through a hope was the equivalent being on a plantation. Gee. Wow. Yawn.

  19. Andy says

    I didn’t realize making millions shooting a ball through a hope was the equivalent being on a plantation. Gee. Wow. Yawn.

  20. says

    Funny how the people that White Knighted for Brandon Eich aren’t saying anything to defend Sterling. If Sterling had said that disgusting stuff about gays instead of blacks, all the ones that were riding Eich’s d*ck would have been lining up to massage Sterling’s b*ttth*le with their tongues.

  21. Peter says

    As we have seen the past few weeks after Chris Collins came out the NBA is full of biggiots, mostly black players.

  22. Joseph Singer says

    2.5 million is nothing for someone like Sterling has multiple billions in the bank and in investments. It’s like if you or I got busted for running a red light.

  23. AMELL says

    Apparently, the owners must abide by the league’s constitution. And there is a provision: “Under the terms of Paragraph 13 of the constitution, NBA owners also have the right, by three-fourths vote, to revoke ownership if an owner “fails to fulfill” a “contractual obligation” in “such a way as to affect the [NBA] or its members adversely.” Now, Sterling could sue in court but the court would probably rule that the League/owner assoc constitution & by-laws are the agreements he signed onto, and he would have to abide by them. So if an owner is voted out, their team is sold and the money equal to their shares is handed back to them…bye Felicia.

  24. Bill says

    @AMELL: the problem with the fine is that it was due to a private conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend (who is being sued by Sterling’s wife, so she just might have a motive to mess up both of them). If it was a phone call, it may be illegal to record the conversation without permission (laws may vary from state to state). We also don’t know if the recording was edited to spice it up (an independent analysis of the recording would be needed to rule out that possibility). We also don’t know if we are hearing only part of the conversation, with a preliminary part the led him on in some way.

    If this sounds overly cynical, recently I got a telemarketing call from some slimeball who ignored the federal do-not-call list and pretended that he had done some maintenance at my home a few years ago. He described where I live, getting a detail off for the time he claimed he was there. What he described matched what Google street view currently shows. With so much misuse of personal information and with the U.S. turning into Nigeria-scam v. 2, I’m basically going to assume I’m dealing with a liar until proven otherwise.

    Now, from how it sounds on that recording, I wouldn’t want to give Sterling the time of day, but fining him, because of a recording that might be only part of a private conversation that was not part of any NBA business, makes the NBA appear to be as arrogant as Sterling appears to be racist.

  25. Randy says

    Just to be clear here, a man has been banned for a private conversation with his girlfriend.

    Should he be punished? I think so. (A case could be made that he should not be.) But a lifetime ban is ridiculous.

    If free speech means anything, it means you aren’t punished for private conversations.

    Not long ago, this was used against us.

  26. PlaidCat says

    The term “free speech” is so saturated in U.S. culture that too many of us forget the first word in the First Amendment: *Congress* shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …”

    Non-governmental institutions can and do restrict the speech of the people who are part of their institutions. Perfectly legal, and not relevant here.

    The matter of a private conversation vs. a public statement affecting one’s relationship with an institution is relevant however. Owners and other high-profile people associated with an organization are held to a higher standard because they are the public face of that organization and can affect its welfare, including its cash value.

  27. Bill says

    @PlaidCat : Read the California constitution, which states (See Article I) that “Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right.” Aticle I also states that our inalienable rights include a right to privacy.

    Some states offer more protections for speech than the federal government does, and the laws of those states apply to the NBA too.

    The term “abuse of this right” is most likely intended to allow law suits for libel or slander, not to give some corporate entity the ability to micromanage people’s personal lives. California labor law makes it clear that “abuse” does not mean any statement that an organization does not like (citing specifically political activity).

    The idea that the NBA was holding its teams’ owners to higher standards doesn’t quite work here – apparently Sterlings’ personal life included flaunting his alleged paramour for the viewing pleasure of paparazzi (according to some news reports).

    It’s reasonable for the NBA to declare him persona non grata and not allow him on a playing field or at any NBA function. It’s not reasonable to fine him for a private conversation that should never have been recorded, but which provides an excellent reason for his girlfriend to dump him.

    Meanwhile, nobody seems to be asking about who made the recording, under what circumstances it was made, and who released it to the press.

  28. northalabama says

    @bill, the nba didn’t release the recordings, they are dealing with the fallout. if you listen to the carefully worded press conference, silver says sterling confirmed he said what was released, and offered no rebuttal.

    at that point, it was open and shut for the nba, just like with eich and mozilla.

  29. Bill says

    @northalabama : the recording was obviously a setup. Sterling probably uttered the words on it, but you might come to a different conclusion about what he intended if you heard the whole conversation. What we can assume is that we are hearing part of an argument with his girlfriend, selected by someone with an agenda.

    As to the NBA, what I was objecting to was the fine, not declaring him persona non grata. That would have sufficed. The fine makes the NBA look arrogant – judge, prosecutor and jury folded up in one, which is kind of “un-American”. If you want to use Eich as an example, Eich actually resigned and Mozilla did not order him to pay a fine.

  30. N says

    This is shameful. ALL or political correctness. Firing and fining a man because his race baiting girlfriend recorded a private convo? so wrong. Race baiters jesse Jackson are all over this.