Sports / Basketball

NBA bans Clippers owner from game for life over racist comment

(Agencies) Updated: 2014-04-30 02:54


The ban may not be enough for some critics who called on Sterling to immediately give up ownership of the Clippers, though observers said the other 29 owners of NBA franchises would be hesitant to back any move that could set a precedent that would undermine their property rights.

"Every owner would be worried that it would create a situation where people later came after them," said Robert Boland, chairman of the sports management department at New York University.

The recording on included part of an argument between Sterling and a model who uses the name V. Stiviano about photographs posted to Instagram. "People call you and tell you that I have black people on my Instagram. And it bothers you," the voice said to be Stiviano's says.

"Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to promo ... broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" the voice said to be Sterling's says.

A lawyer for Stiviano declined to comment on the decision.

Stiviano was named last month as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by Sterling's wife, Rochelle, seeking to recoup spousal community assets she claimed her husband gave to Stiviano without his spouse's consent, including the $240,000 in living expenses, $1.8 million to buy her an upscale duplex and several luxury cars.

A series of Los Angeles Clippers' commercial sponsors moved to distance themselves from the team. Auto dealer CarMax Inc, Virgin America airlines said after Tuesday's announcement they were ending their sponsorship, and State Farm said it was "continuing the pause" in its sponsorship. Sprint said it had "suspended all marketing activities with the Clippers for the immediate future," despite the NBA ban.

Samsung said it was reinstating its advertising of the Clippers' playoff game Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors.

Sterling bought the Clippers, then based in San Diego, in 1981 for $13 million at a time when basketball was far less commercially successful. The franchise could now be worth as much as $800 million, Boland estimated. The team, long a perennial underdog, moved to Los Angeles in 1984.

Sterling was sued as a property owner in 2003 for discrimination in housing by the US government. The lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles accused him of telling his staff to rent to Asian tenants but not black or Hispanic people.

Silver said the decision to ban Sterling from the game had not taken his past history into account. He said, however, that when the owners vote on whether to force him to sell, "they will take into account a lifetime of behavior."

Related: Silver's 1st crisis as commissioner has arrived

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