April 29 (Reuters) - The basketball world was united in their support for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver following his decision to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million for racist comments.
Past and present players and other team owners all voiced their approval after Silver effectively booted Sterling out of the game, saying he would also be forced to sell the team.
“Commissioner Silver thank you for protecting our beautiful and powerful league!! Great leader!!,” Miami Heat forward LeBron James, the face of the NBA, wrote on his Twitter account.
Dwyane Wade, James’ teammate on the NBA champion Heat, echoed his sentiments On social media: “Commissioner Silver....STRONG...way to take charge and protect our great league.”
Magic Johnson tweeted that Silver had shown “great leadership” while Shaquille O‘Neal gave a ringing endorsement. “Way to go, Commissioner Silver! The NBA stands for everybody!” he tweeted.
Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash told a news conference: “After initial outrage, disappointment, sadness, I think today is a very proud moment for the (NBA) Players Association, current and former players and the NBA.”
Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he was thrilled by the tough stance taken by Silver, who only took over as the NBA’s new boss on Feb. 1.
“He got on the case immediately and got to the bottom of whatever mysteries were involved in this and figured out what the truth was and his actions and focus were so on the mark,” Abdul-Jabaar said.
Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player, tweeted: “Commissioner of the @NBA just showed us how he drops the hammer on ignorance.”
The initial response from other NBA team owners was also overwhelming in favor for the unprecedented punishments handed out to Sterling, who was caught on tape criticizing a friend for associating with “black people.”
His comments outraged players, fans and President Barack Obama and prompted widespread calls for his expulsion from the game.
Silver said the NBA had the power to ban him for life and fine him while the decision to force him to sell the team would ultimately be decided by the other 29 team owners.
“I agree 100 percent with Commissioner Silvers findings and the actions taken against Donald Sterling,” Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on his Twitter account.
The Boston Celtics released a statement also backing Silver’s actions: “The Celtics stand for inclusion and equality, and we are proud to be a part of a league that shares the same values.”
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Raptors, said: “As a proud member of the National Basketball Association, we stand strongly in our belief that the comments attributed to Mr. Sterling have no place in our society or sport.”
Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores said he was “proud” of Silver for “providing the leadership and strength necessary in this situation. He has my full support.”
There was no formal announcement from the Clippers but the team’s official website carried a simple, poignant message: “We are One”. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Julian Linden)