The owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the U.S. National Basketball Association has been banned from the league for life because of racist remarks he made about black people in an audio recording.
At a news conference Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been barred from attending NBA games and practices, and will not be allowed to engage in league-related business ventures.
Silver also said he will urge the other NBA owners to force Sterling to sell the Clippers' franchise, noting he is confident he will get the necessary support from the owners. The sale would take a 75 percent vote of the 29 other team owners.
In addition, the NBA commissioner said Sterling is being fined $2.5 million, the maximum allowed under NBA rules.
Silver said the views expressed by Sterling are "deeply offensive and harmful." He was referring to the Clippers' owner asking his then-girlfriend in an audio recording not to publicize her associations with black people.
After Silver announced the punishment, former NBA player Kevin Johnson praised the commissioner for moving swiftly to address the controversy. Johnson, now the mayor of the city of Sacramento, California, has been acting as a special adviser to the players union since the story broke.
The website TMZ first publicized the comments on Friday, and more of the recording was released on deadspin.com. The male voice asks the woman, who is of Latino and black heritage, to not post photos of black people on her Instagram page and to not bring black people to his basketball games.
Following an NBA investigation, Silver said Tuesday he verified that the male voice on the recording belonged to Sterling.
Sterling has a history of racism. In 2009, the real estate mogul paid a record $2.725 million to settle a federal housing discrimination case claiming he sought to exclude black and Hispanic tenants from his rental properties in Los Angeles.
Sterling bought the Clippers for $12 million in 1981. Forbes magazine now values the franchise at $575 million. He is the longest-tenured owner of any of the 30 NBA teams.
The Clippers are now competing in the NBA playoffs. In a silent protest at their playoff game on Sunday, Clippers' players turned their warm-up suits inside out so that no team logos were showing.
U.S. President Barack Obama is among those who have weighed in on the issue. He called the comments "incredibly offensive racist statements."
A number of Los Angeles Clippers advertisers have begun canceling or suspending their sponsorships of the team.
The NBA is a diverse, multi-cultural professional league in which about 70 percent of the players are black, and it includes nearly 100 players from almost 40 countries.