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Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Fined $2.5M and Banned for Life by NBA

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will be banned for life and fined $2.5 million, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday.
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Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will be banned for life and fined $2.5 million for racist comments, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday.

"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."

The move comes after days of outrage at ugly words attributed to Sterling from a taped conversation with an ex-girlfriend.

NBC Sports' Donald Sterling Coverage

The comments, where the octogenarian owner seemed to say he didn't want his much-younger girlfriend hanging out with black people on Instagram or bringing them to games, were first reported by TMZ and then in another recording posted on the sports website Deadspin.

At the press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Commissioner Silver said an investigation had confirmed that the voice on the tapes and the "hateful opinions voiced" were those of Sterling.

"Shortly after the release of an audio recording this past Saturday morning, of a conversation that allegedly included Clipper owner Donald Sterling, the NBA commenced an investigation, which among other things including an interview of Mr. Sterling," said Silver.

"That investigation is now complete," he said.

“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver said. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.”

The commissioner said that Sterling had not been fined by the league in the past for other alleged incidents of racism because the investigations that were actually brought to the NBA never bore fruit.

A senior NBA official told NBC News that the league's Board of Governors, the 30 owners of NBA teams, were not consulted on sanctions against Sterling and weren't even told of the specifics until close to 2 p.m. ET, when the news conference started.

The official said that the commissioner wanted to fine Sterling $5 million, or more, but the league rules allow for only $2.5 million.

"I'm hoping that the actions that we took today will satisfy our players," said Silver.

In a statement from team Vice President of Communications Seth Burton, the Clippers said: "We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver today. Now the healing process begins."

When asked if the Clippers owner expressed remorse, Silver said, "Mr. Sterling has not expressed those views directly to me."

NBC Sports: Sterling’s lifetime ban sends clear message to all owners

The ban means Sterling is now barred from attending any NBA games or practices, being present at any Clippers office or facility, or participating in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team.

He also cannot participate in any league business going forward.

Former NBA all-star and current mayor of Sacramento, Calif., Kevin Johnson, who has repped the player’s association, spoke out after the announcement.

"This is a very stark reminder that we still have a lot of work to do. Yes we have an African American president, yes, justice happened in a swift manner ... but these events remind all of us that hatred and bigotry are far from over. I hope every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling and recognizes that if he can fall, so can you."

Hall-of-famer and former Los Angeles Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar added, "It’s going to be a new day here in this city, and a whole lot of Clipper fans are going to have a whole lot more to smile about.”

— with Robert Windrem

Editor's note: This story originally misstated the amount of the fine as $5 million.