|(NBA) Sterling gets life-time ban from league over race remarks
The NBA banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him the maximum US$2.5 million Tuesday for "deeply offensive and harmful'' racist comments that sparked a national firestorm.
Hours after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hit Sterling with every penalty at his disposal -- including calling on other owners to force him to sell his team -- Clippers coach Glenn "Doc'' Rivers welcomed the move as his players took the court against the Golden State Warriors, AFP reports.
"These last three or four days have been very difficult for everybody, no matter what your race,'' Rivers said. "I thought that was the sigh of relief we needed.
"Is this over? No, it's not over,'' Rivers added. "But it's the start of a healing process that we need.''
Rivers said he felt his team had played under undeserved stress in the three days since an audio recording surfaced of 80-year-old billionaire Sterling urging his girlfriend not to publicly associate with blacks.
Clippers players staged a silent protest in Oakland on Sunday before a blowout road loss to the Warriors and Rivers said the Sterling affair had taken a toll.
The surprisingly tough sanctions earned swift praise from across basketball, with current and former stars lauding Silver's decisive action on his 88th day in the job since replacing 30-year NBA boss David Stern.
"The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,'' Silver told a news conference in New York. "That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.''
The punishment following a lightning-fast investigation means real estate tycoon Sterling cannot attend any National Basketball Association (NBA) games or workouts, appear at any Clippers office or facility, or make any business or personnel decisions for the club.
Silver said he will urge NBA owners to strip the team from Sterling. The market value of the team Sterling bought for US$12 million in 1981 is expected to approach US$600 million.
Three-quarters of the owners must vote to force Sterling to sell, and a lengthy court fight from Sterling is still possible.
"I fully expect to get the support I need from fellow NBA owners to remove him,'' Silver said.