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NBA's Adam Silver Banishes Sterling In Historic Ruling

Mary Grace Montemayor |
April 30, 2014 | 4:29 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

A black banner with the phrase, "WE ARE ONE," hung outside the Staples Center Tuesday on a historic and emotional night for the Clippers organization and the NBA. 

Adam Silver Press Conference (Getty Images)
Adam Silver Press Conference (Getty Images)

The electricity in the air was apparent. Among many in attendance at the sellout Game 5 was Rev. Jesse Jackson, welcoming the players with a standing ovation as they jogged onto the court. The crowd was vociferous following a momentous ruling by NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, just hours earlier. One fan showcased a sign that voiced it all: "Silver is gold. Sterling is history."  

On Tuesday morning, Silver addressed the nation in a press conference announcing the lifetime ban of Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. The longest-tenured owner in the NBA was caught on tape making bigoted remarks against African Americans, revealing his "slumlord" mentality in regard to his players.

Just 88 days into his job as commissioner, he made waves with a forceful yet heartfelt speech. Not only is 80-year-old Sterling not allowed anywhere near an NBA game or practice facility, Silver will force the sale of his team and fine the owner $2.5 million, the maximum allowed by the league's constitution, to be donated to charities chosen by the NBA Players Association.

Clippers fans at Game 5 (Getty Images)
Clippers fans at Game 5 (Getty Images)

The Clippers voiced their support with the official statement: "We wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the NBA and Adam Sliver today. Now the healing process begins." The reinvigorated players returned to basketball as usual with a win at home, leading the series 3-2.

Though many hoped for a just ruling, a suspension and a fine was expected at best. Had the ruling not satisfied the fans, coaches and players, Tuesday night's game could have been a different story. Golden State players had a bold protest planned had Sliver not laid down the hammer.

Silver's swift and definitive decision was a proud moment for the NBA. He has been christened "the players' commissioner," with massive support from players and the nation alike. LeBron James tweeted, "Commissioner Silver thank you for protecting our beautiful and powerful league!! Great Leader!!" Magic Johnson, the catalyst to Sterling's racist rant, spoke for current and former NBA players about their satisfaction with the commissioner's ruling.

Silver restored order to a league that has often led the pack in its progressive movements to collapse the racial divide. Kevin Johnson, NBPA Executive Committee Chairman, deemed it "one of those great moments where sports, once again, transcends, [and] provides a place for fundamental change on how our country should think and act." 

Johnson, the Laker legend, now hopes the NBA Board of Governors will do the right thing and oust Sterling as an owner. Three-quarters, or 23 out of 30 of the league's owners, will need to back Silver in order to complete the forced sale. The commissioner fully expects the needed support and will do "everything in [his] power'' to make this happen.

Clippers head coach Doc Rivers released an official statement and made it clear that, "I want a chance to work in an environment that is healthy." He may very well get that chance. Many expressed their desire to purchase the Clippers, including Judd Apatow, P. Diddy, and Oprah Winfrey, blasting the owner and reminding him that, "the plantation days are over."

While there is still no response from Sterling, one thing is certain. As a former lawyer with a pugnacious character, he is not expected to back down without a fight. April 29th was a victory for the NBA, but this story is far from over. 

You can reach Mary Grace Montemayor here. Follow her on Twitter here



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