At least one NBA owner says he would vote to remove Donald Sterling as Los Angeles Clippers owner, depending on the results of the NBA's investigation.
Only with the approval of 75% of NBA owners could Sterling or any owner be removed from the league, ESPN.com reports based on a legal review of of the league's ownership constitution. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to announce Tuesday a verdict on the investigation into the audio recording released last week of a man alleged to be Sterling making racist statements to his girlfriend, and Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson has taken a strong stance on the topic.
"Sterling (if he is on the recording) should be given the maximum penalty for his comments," Levenson said Monday on Atlanta radio station 92.9/The Game. "I strongly believe that the league has to have a zero-tolerance policy against racism and discrimination in any form and I have faith that commissioner Adam Silver will act in what's the best interest of the league. I have expressed these views to Adam and my fellow owners."
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Outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was a little more hesitant in speaking with news reporters before Monday's Mavericks-San Antonio Spurs playoff game, saying taking the franchise away from Sterling could be the start of a "slippery slope."
"Look, there's a constitution for the NBA and it's there for a reason, to give us guidance," Cuban said. "I think what he said was abhorrent. I think whatever sanctions are available to Adam, I trust him to take advantage of them and operate under the best interest of the NBA. It's not my decision to make at this stage and I don't want to be the one to make the decision."
At least 11 NBA owners have commented on the recording, with each expressing confidence that Silver will handle the situation properly. Because Sterling has yet to acknowledge it's his voice on the recording, owners avoided directly discussing their business partner.
"The comments and sentiments expressed on the tape are reprehensible and disturbing, and certainly are the opposite of how the Lakers feel about the league's players and fans," Los Angeles Lakers President Jeanie Buss said in a news release Monday. The Lakers have shared Staples Center with the Clippers since the arena opened in 1999.
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Buss' view was shared by several other owners, including Charlotte Bobcats chairman Michael Jordan, who released a statement Saturday that he was "completely outraged."
San Antonio Spurs CEO Peter Holt took a more measured approach in speaking with the San Antonio Express-News.
"I want to be very careful," Holt said. "The league is doing its own investigation and I don't want to jump the gun. I don't know the context, but from what I've heard it sounds bad and it isn't like this is the first go-around for him."
Holt went on to deride owners who steal the attention from the games on the court.
The owners know such a scandal could be harmful for business, particularly during the playoffs, and they did not mince words in deriding the recording.
"The kind of statements attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling, if true, are abhorrent, and not acceptable for the owner of an NBA franchise or anyone in professional sports," Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen said in a news release Monday. "We ... reject any and all such sentiments, and believe NBA leadership should take swift and impactful action in this case."
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