New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million for his racially charged comments that were taped by his girlfriend and sent to media outlets.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the unprecedented announcement during a press conference on Tuesday.
Silver said that the NBA conducted a comprehensive investigation, which included an interview with Sterling, who, according to Silver, confirmed it was his voice on the tape.
"I am urging the NBA Board of Governors to force the sale of the team," said Silver, who added he didn't decide until Tuesday morning what the punishment would be.
The discipline issued is based on the Silver's conclusion that Sterling violated league rules through his expressions of offensive and hurtful views, the impact of which has been widely felt throughout the league. The fine was the maximum allowed under current NBA constitution and Silver added he has the full support of other NBA owners regarding the punishment.
"I agree 100% with Commissioner Silver's findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted shortly after the announcement.
The recording became public on Friday when TMZ.com posted nearly 10 minutes of audio it said is a conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend, in which a man tells a woman he is bothered by her association with African-Americans and asks her not to bring them to Clippers games.
Deadspin also released another tape said to be Sterling and his girlfriend, in which the man tells the woman he supports the players because his money pays for their food, clothes, cars and houses.
The backlash to Sterling's comments have been widespread.
Clippers players held a silent protest prior to their 118-97 Game 4 playoff loss to Golden State on Sunday, while a number of team sponsors have either terminated their deals or put their partnership on hold. Golden State head coach Mark Jackson also suggested that fans not show up to the playoff games in Los Angeles as a protest and others would like to see Sterling forced to sell the team.
Additionally, the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP has returned donations from Sterling and decided to not honor him with a second lifetime achievement award he was scheduled to receive at a banquet in May.
"Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life," tweeted former Lakers great Earvin "Magic" Johnson. "Former and current NBA players are very happy and satisfied with Commissioner Silver's ruling "
The ruling was also met with approval from Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who also serves as the president of the players' union.
"In response to today's ruling by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver, my teammates and I are in agreement with his decision," said Paul in a statement. "We appreciate the strong leadership from Commissioner Silver and he has our full support."
Nearly lost in the middle of this mess is that the Clippers are set to host the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night in Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal with the series even at two games apiece.
Sterling did not attend Game 4 in Oakland. Now, with the suspension he is not allowed to be with the team or have any involvement in any day-to-day operations.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers released a statement on Monday, saying that fans should stick with the team through this tough time and that everyone within the organization is "upset and embarrassed by the situation."
"We are all trying to figure out everything as it goes and just do our best and we hope that it is the right answer," said Rivers in the statement. "I'm still going to do my best and do what I think is best for the team and for everybody in this case. It is very difficult because there are so many emotions in this. This is a very emotional subject, this is personal."
This is not the first time Sterling, who has owned the Clippers since 1981, has been embroiled in controversy.
In 2009, he was fined over $2.7 million by the U.S. Justice Department to settle allegations he discriminated against African-Americans, Hispanics and families with children at apartment buildings he controls in Los Angeles.
Two years later, Sterling won a lawsuit filed by former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor, who accused the team of firing him based on his age.
Sterling also previously reached a settlement with a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment.