Tuesday 20 March 2018

LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling banned for life by NBA over racist remarks

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling
NBA commissioner Adam Silver addresses the media regarding the investigation involving Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling
Race row: Donald Sterling, pictured with female friend V. Stiviano in 2010 Photo: AP

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life and heavily fined by the National Basketball Association (NBA) on Tuesday over racist comments he made.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told a news conference that Sterling was fined $2.5 million and suspended from the league for life in the wake of his rant that has triggered outrage in the United States.

What Sterling is purported to have said to the 31-year-old woman, V. Stiviano, has led to a protest by his own players, a sponsors’ boycott of his franchise and almost universal condemnation from fans, NBA players, team owners and even the basketball-loving President Obama.

During the recording, which was aired by the celebrity website TMZ, a male voice alleged to be that of Sterling could be heard criticising Stiviano for posting a photograph of herself with the retired NBA star Magic Johnson and warning her not to bring black people to Clippers games in the future.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling is alleged to have said.

"You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in. You can do whatever you want. The little I ask is not to promote it on that [website], and not to bring them to my games.”

On Monday, Sterling’s estranged wife, Rochelle, confirmed that the voice on the recording was indeed her husband’s.

"Our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband," she said in statement. "My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices."

Sterling, who has owned the Clippers since 1981, has said nothing since the scandal broke, choosing not to attend his team’s defeat at Golden State Warriors in their play-off match on Sunday, though others have not been so reticent.

During an official visit to Malaysia, Obama condemned the “incredibly offensive racist statements" and linked them to the wider issue of racism in American society.

“The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation,” he said. “That’s still there, the vestiges of discrimination.”

Johnson, the former LA Lakers star who was the subject of Sterling’s alleged attack, reacted to the controversy by vowing that he and his wife would never attend another Clippers match while Sterling was the owner.

"LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling's comments about African Americans are a black eye for the NBA,” he said.

NBA icon Michael Jordan, who is now the majority owner and chairman of the Charlotte Bobcats, said he was "disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views" while Miami heat star LeBron James said there was "no room for Donald Sterling in our league".

Online Editors

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