The NBA handed out swift and severe punishment to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Tuesday, banning him for life and levying a $2.5 million fine for making racist remarks that league commissioner Adam Silver called “deeply offensive and harmful.”
Silver also said that he would “do everything in [his] power” to convince the league’s Board of Governors to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, the franchise he’s owned since 1981, telling reporters that “Mr. Sterling’s views … simply have no place in the NBA.”
And based on the reaction of current and former NBA players, they agreed with that assessment.
Reigning MVP LeBron James – who had previously called for Sterling’s ouster – thanked Silver “for protecting our beautiful and powerful league” on Twitter, adding the hashtags #BiggerThanBasketball and #StriveForGreatness. Kobe Bryant also praised the commissioner, weighing in with a succinct “Bravo Silver.”
Golden State Warriors’ guard Stephen Curry, who will face off against the Clippers tonight in the NBA playoffs, gave Silver a “standing ovation” on Twitter for “standing up for the league and its players,” and the Brooklyn Nets’ Jason Collins, who made history earlier this season as the first openly-gay player in a major U.S. professional sport, said Sterling “just showed us how he drops the hammer on ignorance.”
In a series of tweets, Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, mentioned specifically by Sterling in recordings obtained by TMZ, said Silver “showed great leadership” throughout, and hoped that the league can begin to move past the controversy and focus on the games themselves.
“Now the Clippers players and fans can concentrate on the game tonight against the Warriors,” he wrote. “Current and former NBA players now know that in commissioner Adam Silver, we have a great leader going forward.”
Throughout the day, in a show of solidarity with players who wore black socks and armbands in the wake of Sterling’s comments, the Clippers’ official site went dark, greeting visitors with a message that read, simply, “We Are One.”
Famous Clippers fans like Billy Crystal and Adam McKay (who had pledged to sell his season tickets) responded to Sterling’s lifetime ban with joy, with comedian B.J. Novak cracking “Now Donald Sterling can spend more time focusing on his wonderful marriage.”
Artists like the Roots’ Questlove, who had previously hoped that the Clippers would refuse to suit up for Sterling, greeted the news of his ouster with an emphatic “OUT,” and the always outspoken Chuck D made mention of Sterling’s “slum lord” past, writing “The NBA & Society should force Sterling to build up the entire SkidRow area with massive affordable housing on his dime.”
There were, of course, slightly less refined responses, too, most notably from rapper Plies, who released a brand new song about Sterling … called “Racist Muthafucka.”