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LA Clippers owner Sterling banned for life

April 29, 2014 at 3:01 p.m.
Updated April 28, 2014 at 11:29 p.m.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sits courtside at a game between the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Clippers in Los Angeles in  April 2010. On Saturday, April 26, 2014, the NBA said it is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to his girlfriend. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

NEW YORK (AP) - NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered the swiftest, strongest penalty he could, then called on NBA owners to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments that hurt the league.

Almost unanimously, owners supported the commissioner Tuesday as he handed down one of the harshest penalties in the history of U.S. sports.

"We stand together in condemning Mr. Sterling's views. They simply have no place in the NBA," Silver said at a news conference.

Sterling, 80, is banned for life from any association with the league or the Clippers and was fined $2.5 million - the maximum allowable under the NBA constitution. If three-fourths of the other 29 owners agree to Silver's recommendation, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.

A message left seeking comment at Sterling's business office hadn't been returned Tuesday afternoon.

Players and others cheered Silver's quick action, with union officials saying that if the league's punishment hadn't included a mandate for Sterling to sell the team, players were considering boycotting playoff games, including Tuesday's Golden State Warriors-Clippers matchup, the team's first home game since the scandal erupted.

"We wanted to be a part of this decision, and we wanted Adam Silver to know where we stood. And we were very clear that anything other than Sterling selling his team was not going to be enough for us," said Roger Mason Jr., the first vice president of the players' union.

Chris Paul, the Clippers' All-Star point guard and the president of the players' union, issued a brief statement before leading Los Angeles against the Warriors in Game 5.

"In response to today's ruling by the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver, my teammates and I are in agreement with his decision," Paul said. "We appreciate the strong leadership from Commissioner Silver, and he has our full support."

Sterling's comments - which were recorded by his girlfriend and released by TMZ on Saturday - harmed the league, Silver said. Sponsors were threatening to abandon the NBA, and criticism was coming from fans.

Sterling criticized V. Stiviano - purportedly the female voice on the recording - for posting pictures of herself with black athletes.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling asks the woman.

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