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NBA's Silver gives Clippers' Sterling ban for life

LOS ANGELES--The NBA came down hard on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday, banning him for life for “deeply offensive and harmful” racist comments that sparked a national firestorm.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hit Sterling with every penalty at his disposal, fining him a maximum US$2.5 million dollars and calling on other owners to force him to sell his team.

The swift, sharp reaction drew praise from around the league and buoyed Clippers players, who defeated the Golden State Warriors 113-103 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round playoff series.

“I thought they were great,” Clippers coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers said of his players. “I thought they were tired a lot, and that was the result of the last few days.

“I just thought they had great mental toughness. They wanted to will this game, and I'm just proud of them.”

Rivers said before the game that the sanctions meted out by Silver were “the sigh of relief we needed.”

“Is this over? No, it's not over,” Rivers added. “But it's the start of a healing process that we need.”

Rivers said he felt his team had played under undeserved stress in the three days since an audio recording surfaced of 80-year-old married billionaire Sterling chastising his girlfriend for publicly associating with blacks.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?” the man now confirmed to be Sterling says in the recording.

“The little I ask you is not to promote it ... and not to bring them to my games.”

“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver told a news conference in New York. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.”

The punishment means real estate tycoon Sterling cannot attend any National Basketball Association (NBA) games or workouts, appear at any Clippers office or facility, or make any business or personnel decisions for the club.

Silver said he will urge NBA owners to force Sterling to sell. That would require three-quarters of the owners to agree, and Silver said he fully expected to get the necessary support.

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