NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a press conference. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Donald Sterling punishment: Adam Silver sets impressive tone with lifetime ban


Just before the 2:00 pm press conference for NBA commissioner Adam Silver got underway, word began to leak out that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling had been indefinitely suspended and fined $5 million as a result of his controversial and racially motivated comments. Because of the nature of the actual comments, nothing seemed unreasonable or out of bounds with regard to punishment, but with the unknown nature of the NBA by-laws and what exactly Adam Silver and his peers could do in reaction, there was a great deal of anticipation for the announcement.

Then, the announcement came and the leaked reports were blown out of the water.

Commissioner Silver stepped to the podium in front of a packed house and unceremoniously banned Donald Sterling for life in addition to instituting a maximum fine of $2.5 million. That ban includes a full exclusion from attending games and practices, being present at any NBA facility, participating in any business or player personnel decisions, and acting as a member of the NBA Board of Governors.

When dealing with that ban in its own right, this is an incredibly strong maneuver from the commissioner’s office, and one that is easy to support. Popular opinion, both inside and outside of the league, rests on the side of there being “no place in the NBA” for Donald Sterling, and this swift decision exercises that immediately.

Of course, there is significant fallout from the ban, simply because of the fact that Sterling is, at this moment, the owner of the franchise, and thus, has a significant financial and business interest in its progress.

In response to that, Silver expressed that he will strongly urge the NBA Board of Governors (made up of the 30 owners) to force the sale of the Clippers franchise, and the commissioner stated that he “will do everything in his power to assure that it happens.” The aforementioned fine of $2.5 million has been levied immediately (and it represents the maximum amount allowed under the NBA constitution), but Sterling’s financial interests have extended fallout despite the ban. Silver stated that the Board of Governors would have to accumulate a three-fourths majority in order to remove Sterling as an owner, but until that occurs, Sterling cannot be forced to sell the team, as the lifetime ban is independent of that action.

Donald Sterling is (or was) the longest tenured owner in the National Basketball Association, and that is jarring in its own right.

However, the new face of the NBA has brought a strong hand to his first high-profile situation, and that is extremely encouraging for the league’s future under Adam Silver’s direction. The commissioner plainly stated that the NBA is “far bigger than any one owner” when providing support to Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers, and I can’t imagine a scenario in which 22 of the other 29 NBA owners did not agree with that sentiment in removing Sterling as a partner and placing the team up for sale.

Rumors of billionaire groups led by Magic Johnson and others will begin to swirl as the league looks for a new step for its second Los Angeles franchise, but Adam Silver’s swift movement to remove Donald Sterling could set the tone for an impressive reign as the man in charge.

Tags: Donald Sterling Los Angeles Clippers

  • 18_18

    Let’s not stop with this punishment. I propose all NBA teams, coaches, players and front office personnel should be black. Basketball is a sport for blacks, so let”s get rid of all those “honkies”.

    • Real M-Fing talk !!!

      Something tells me you are white and you really need to get a life you piece of trash !!!

      • 18_18

        Basketball is a freaks sport. Normal sized people can’t play. Turn the game over to the blacks. They would prefer no whites be involved.

      • 18_18

        Based on your reply, you must be a low IQ individual. You enjoy kissing black butt.

  • Real M-Fing talk !!!

    100% agree with this decision !. while some are questioning what is a life time ban to a 81 year old with the reaper within shouting distance. It does mean a lot, This Ban goes way beyond Sterling, it serves NOTICE to all owners, G.M.’s, coaches and Especially players, to everyone under the NBA umbrella and this serves a big time notice to the fans.

    This decision shows Silver is willing to swing the hammer when needed unlike turning a blind eye, frozen envelopes and manipulating the game for years type of approach by Stern… I hope this will usher in a new era not just of great basketball but of accountability as well. The line in the sand has been drawn, so No longer can anyone in the NBA family claim ignorance if they are caught doing something untoward. This Ban will follow Sterling to the grave and beyond for those whom faith runs that deep, his name will forever be soiled, just a terrible way to be remembered,

    For those claiming his age is a factor, he is from an older generation and a different time where this was accepted… you can say that about your average elderly shut-in, Sterling was far from a shut-in, he was exposed to the world and still he held these views.. you do not become a billionaire being an idiot your entire life, Sterling is just a heartless human being … period !…. I Hope the players will be given the option to enter free agency if Sterling is still the owner by next NBA season, i cannot image what each player feels having to show up to that building every night… To put this in perspective… Those were feelings Sterling’s had about MEN like Magic Johnson men who has achieved greatness , none of that mattered to Sterling, he only saw black and it makes you wonder how he feels about the common everyday black / minority person… well one thing we already know, if it was up to him, Sterling would not rent apartments to them…. Finally lets not stop with owners its time we start banning players in sports whom can’t stay out of trouble !!!