The NBA announced Tuesday that it has banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined $2.5 million after he was recorded making racist comments.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement at a news conference in New York.
An investigation into the recording concluded the voice was Sterling’s Silver told reporters.
“The man whose voice is heard on the recording and on a second recording from the same conversation that was released on Sunday is Mr. Sterling,” said Silver, who is confronting his first major crisis since he was named commissioner in February. “The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful.”
The decision comes after days of public outrage directed at Sterling after an audio recording surfaced over the weekend that allegedly contained his voice saying racist comments to his then-girlfriend Vanessa Stiviano.
The tape recorded a man’s voice, which the NBA said is Sterling, telling Stiviano not to post pictures of herself with black men to Instagram or bring black men to Clippers games. One of the men mentioned is Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
Sterling, 80, has owned the Clippers since 1981.
Sterling said he would call on the owners to vote to force Sterling to sell the team. Such a move would require approval of three-quarters of the current owners.
The league acted after several team sponsors including auto dealer CarMax Inc, Virgin America, State Farm, Kia Motors America, music mogul P. Diddy’s water brand, AQUAHydrate, Red Bull and Yokohama Tire all announced on Monday that they were stepping back from the team.
Some advertisers have asked to move their commercials out of the national broadcast of Tuesday’s Clippers playoff game against the Golden State Warriors by TNT, owned by Time Warner Inc, and the local airing on a sports channel owned by 21st Century Fox, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Sterling bought Clippers in 1981 at a time when basketball was far less commercially successful than it is today, and the franchise could now be worth as much as $800 million, estimated Robert Boland, chairman of the sports management department at New York University.