NBA Commissioner Adam Silver lowered the boom on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday, issuing a lifetime ban in response to racist comments the league says he made on a recorded conversation.
"The central findings of the investigation are that the man whose voice is on the recordings," Silver said at a press conference in New York City, "is Mr. Sterling and that the hateful feelings [expressed] are those of Mr. Sterling."
Silver apologized to a number of members of what he referred to repeatedly as "the NBA family," former players like Bill Russell and "particularly Magic Johnson," whom Sterling singled out for derision in the conversation.
"It's a painful moment for all members of the NBA family," he said.
Silver said he will try to force the controversial owner to sell his franchise. Sterling has also been fined $2.5 million, and Silver made no effort to hide his outrage over the comments.
"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views," Silver said. "They simply have no place in the NBA."
The response on social media was instantaneous and overwhelmingly in support of Silver. Before the press conference was over, NBA owners, players and former stars had all tweeted their approval of his position.
Sterling was immediately barred from attending 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.
He also cannot participate in any league business going forward.
"This league is far bigger than any one owner, any one coach and any one player," Silver said.
The fine will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance efforts that will be jointly selected by the NBA and the Players Association, Silver said.
Sterling's comments were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin, and numerous NBA owners and players have condemned them. Even President Barack Obama weighed in on the crisis, the first of Silver's brief tenure as commissioner.
Before Silver took the podium, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tweeted out a photo of the NBA Constitution, saying "It exists for a reason."
The announcement of the sanctions came just hours before the Clippers are scheduled to play Golden State in Game 5 of a knotted-up Western Conference first-round playoff series.
Several sponsors either terminated or suspended their business dealings with the team on Monday, though individual deals that some of those companies have with Clippers stars like Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will continue and were not affected. Still, it was a clear statement that companies, like just about everyone inside the league, were outraged.
Asked what he would say to sponsors and companies balking at the idea of doing business with the Clippers or the league, Silver said, "I would say to our marketing partners, 'You should judge us by our response to this incident.'"
The issues raised when the tapes were released over the weekend represent just another chapter in Sterling's long history of being at the center of controversy.
In the past, he's faced extensive federal charges of civil rights violations and racial discrimination in his business dealings, and some of his race-related statements would be described as shocking.
He has also been sued in the past for sexual harassment by former employees, and even the woman who goes by the name "V. Stiviano" — purportedly the female voice on the tapes at the center of this scandal — describes Sterling in court documents as a man "with a big toothy grin brandishing his sexual prowess in the faces of the Paparazzi and caring less what anyone else thought, the least of which, his own wife."
Stiviano is being sued by Rochelle Sterling, who is seeking to reclaim at least $1.8 million in cash and gifts that her husband allegedly provided the woman.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.