Commissioner Adam Silver investigated the tape originally published by TMZ and determined that the voice on the tape was indeed Sterling. Sterling was recorded in a conversation with his girlfriend V, Stiviano expressing dismay over her taking a picture with basketball legend Magic Johnson.
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling asked.
A longer version of the tape was released a day later that found Sterling further digging his own grave:
Sterling: "It's the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs."
Stiviano: "So do you have to treat them like that, too?"
Sterling: "The white Jews, there's white Jews and black Jews. Do you understand?"
Stiviano: "And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?"
Sterling: "A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent."
With absurd comments like that Commissioner Silver had no choice but to put the hammer down on Sterling.
“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,” Silver said in his press conference on Tuesday.
“I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA. Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices. He may not be present at any Clippers facility, and 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,” Sterling added.
“I am also fining Mr. Sterling $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed under the NBA constitution. These funds will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and its Players Association.”
With the entire world watching Adam Silver was under a ton of pressure to make the right decision regarding Sterling and he did. Banning a 80-year old billionaire and fining him a measly $2.5 million doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the most that Silver could do under the leagues rules.
Ousting Sterling from ownership is the appropriate punishment given the crime, and the Commissioner had that up his sleeve as well.
“As for Mr. Sterling's ownership interest in the Clippers,” Silver explained, “I will urge the Board of Governors to exercise its authority to force a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens.”
High profile NBA owners Jerry Reinsdorf, Michael Jordan, Mark Cuban have already expressed support for Commissioner Silver’s plan to force Sterling to sell his team.
According to Silver, the owners have the authority subject to three quarters vote of the ownership groups to remove Sterling as the owner of the Clippers – I believe it will happen.
This decision by Silver is not only important for basketball, but for sports on all levels and even the everyday average workplace. Discriminatory views from people in power are dangerous and unacceptable. Silver put other NBA owners and the rest of the sporting world on notice that if you discriminate in any form you’re going to pay a hefty price.
Good job, Mr. Silver.