The basketball community – and the President of the United States — were quick to condemn the recorded comments of Clippers owner Donald Sterling. *AFP photo
The basketball community – and the President of the United States — were quick to condemn the recorded comments of Clippers owner Donald Sterling. *AFP photo

The NBA world was shocked last week to hear about the racist outburst caught on tape by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

The now-verified audio tape was obtained by TMZ Sports, in which Sterling can be heard making racist remarks during a heated altercation with his girlfriend V. Stiviano on April 9. 

Today, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the league had given Sterling a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine, saying its own investigation had confirmed that Sterling did in fact make the comments on the audio tape.

Under the ban, Sterling “may not attend any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player-personnel decisions involving the team”

It added: “He will also be barred from attending NBA Board of Governors meetings and participating in any other league activity.”

The now-infamous audio tape has Sterling telling his African-American/Mexican girlfriend that he does NOT want her associating with “black people” or bringing “black people” to his games, including Magic Johnson. Here are some exerts of Sterling’s racist outburst…

n “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”

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

n “I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

n “...Don’t put him [Magic Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me.  And don’t bring him to my games.”

Since the release of the audio tape, the reactions from the NBA players and fans have been critical,  demanding “swift and decisive” action from NBA towards Sterling and today they did just that. 

Hall of Famer Johnson, who appears to be the catalyst of Sterling’s rant, had stated he would not attend another Clippers game as long as Sterling remains owner of the team. 

Even President Obama took time out at press conference in Malaysia to call Sterling’s remarks ”incredibly offensive and racist”. Obama went on to say: “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything; you just let them talk.”

But when it comes to Donald Sterling, one cannot be totally shocked by his latest racist outburst.

The 81-year-old billionaire has a history of racist conduct. Sterling was sued twice for allegedly discriminating against black and Hispanic tenants in properties he owned in 2005 and 2009. 

Sterling was also sued in 2009 by former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor for wrongful dismissal based on age and race, although a jury found no merit in the Baylor case.

So given Sterling’s profound past and the recent exposures, it was perhaps only a matter of time until he was banned from the NBA.

After all, it is a league where the players are predominantly African-American, with a multicultural fan base. What’s even more infuriating is the fact Sterling was previously honoured by the NAACP with a lifetime achievement award.

One would think a man of Jewish descent and raised in L.A. would be a little more sensitive to the issue of race and discrimination.

Did he feel that being 81 and a billionaire made him exempt from repercussions?

If so, he was obviously mistaken. 

NBA players and fans around the globe should all feel a sense of relief knowing the league has imposed such severe sanctions against Sterling.

Well done, NBA, you have forcefully demonstrated you do not tolerate racist behaviour by anyone associated with the league or its teams. Now back to the playoffs! n

Follow Bobbi Singh on  Twitter @sportschickca.

For more on the Sterling controversy go to page 9.