NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced Tuesday that he has levied a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling following a league investigation confirming that Sterling did make the racist comments featured on audio recordings published this past weekend. Silver also announced that the NBA will immediately begin working to try to force Sterling, who has owned the Clippers since 1981, to sell the team.
Moments before Silver's news conference began, veteran journalist Jim Gray reported on Fox News that he had spoken with Sterling, and that the 80-year-old said in no uncertain terms that he does not plan to sell the Clippers:
"I just spoke with Donald Sterling on the telephone, just moments ago," Gray said. "He is unaware of what is going to happen to him. He has not been notified. He also said he really didn't want to comment on the record. However, the team is not for sale, and he will not be selling the team."
While Sterling may not want to sell, it is possible that he could still be ousted via the invocation of a provision in the NBA's constitution and bylaws, as laid out by ESPN.com's Lester Munson. It would require a three-fourths vote of the NBA's Board of Governors, which consists of all 30 owners, to terminate Sterling's franchise. During his news conference, Silver expressed confidence that he could reach that three-fourths majority.
"I fully expect to get the support needed," Silver said.
Whether Sterling's position has been, or will be, changed by the strong outpouring of support for his ouster from fellow owners remains to be seen.
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