| NEW YORK, April 29
NEW YORK, April 29 Less than three months into
his job as the new commissioner of the National Basketball
Association (NBA), Adam Silver has already left an indelible
impression on the game.
In his first big test since taking over from David Stern,
who had served for three decades before stepping down earlier
this year, Silver emerged as a strong leader prepared to take a
firm stance against racial intolerance.
The former lawyer's decision to ban Los Angeles Clippers
owner Donald Sterling and fine him $2.5 million and initiate
plans to force him to sell the team won Silver instant,
Michael Jordan, the game's most celebrated global figure,
led the accolades. "I applaud NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's
swift and decisive response today," Jordan said in a statement.
"He sent a powerful message that there can be zero tolerance
for racism and hatred in the NBA."
His sentiments were endorsed by Magic Johnson, another of
the game's most respected and iconic figures.
"Commissioner Silver showed great leadership in banning LA
Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life," he tweeted.
Silver's strong stance against Sterling, who was caught on
tape criticizing a friend for associating with "black people,"
was reminiscent of the hard-line approach taken by other
professional sport bosses.
Major League Baseball chief A. Bartlett Giamatti banned
all-time hits leader Pete Rose for life after he was found to
have broken the rules by betting on games.
More recently, the National Football League commissioner
Roger Goodell doled out heavy punishments to the New England
Patriots for spying on teams during their practices and
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick for his involvement
in a dog-fighting ring.
Silver needed only three days to decide to boot Sterling out
of the game, once he was satisfied that it was voice on the
Silver said he had known Sterling, the longest-tenured owner
of any of the 30 NBA teams, for about 20 years but his comments
were so grave that he had no alternative other than to hand him
the stiffest punishment he could.
Before he announced the penalties against Sterling, the
bespectacled Silver began by telling a packed news conference of
his personal disgust at the comments that were made.
Initially reading from prepared notes before taking
questions from the media, the 52-year-old issued a heartfelt
apology to anyone who had been offended by Sterling's
"The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive
and harmful," he said. "That they came from an NBA owner only
heightens the damage and my personal outrage.
"Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of
inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse,
multicultural and multi ethnic league."
Silver acknowledged the league still had a lot of work to
repair the damage done to the Clippers' brand but urged people
to judge the NBA on Tuesday's actions in tackling racism.
"This has all happened in three days, and so I'm hopeful
that there will be no long-term damage to the league and to the
Clippers' organization," he said.
"This will take some time, and appropriate healing will be
necessary. I can understand how upset they are, and I'll do my
best to bring them back into the NBA family."
Silver, a protege of Stern's who won his endorsement to be
the successor, began working for the NBA in 1992.
Before assuming his current role, Silver held the positions
of special assistant to the commissioner, NBA chief of staff,
senior vice president of NBA Entertainment, and president of NBA
He graduated from Duke University in 1984 and worked as a
legislative aide for a U.S. Congressman for a year before
earning his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1988.
"I am extremely proud of this great league's diverse,
respectful and inclusive culture, and we will not allow one
individual's intolerant views to define us," he said.
"Let me be clear: Mr. Sterling's views have no place in the
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Julian Linden)