Ten NBA owners met Thursday afternoon by telephone and unanimously voted to begin the process of removing Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The owners, who comprised the league's advisory and finance committee, met two days after NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that he had banned Sterling from the NBA for life. Silver also fined him $2.5 million and announced that he would ask owners to vote to force him to sell the team.
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Silver's action came four days after it was revealed on the website TMZ that Sterling had made racist comments in a taped conversation with his girlfriend.
"The committee unanimously agreed to move forward as expeditiously as possible and will reconvene next week," Mike Bass, the NBA's executive vice president, communications, said in a statement.
Under NBA bylaws, the league needs a consensus of at least three-fourths of the 29 remaining owners to vote Sterling out. Silver said Tuesday that he is confident that he will get the votes, and that seems to be backed up by the numerous statements of support that have been issued by teams since the ban was announced.
The committee that met Thursday was chaired by Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, and included the Heat's Micky Arison, the Lakers' Jeanie Buss, the Thunder's Clay Bennett, the Celtics' Wyc Grousbeck, the Spurs' Peter Holt, the Suns' Robert Sarver, the Pacers' Herb Simon, the Raptors' Larry Tanenbaum and the Knicks' James Dolan, who is also the CEO of Cablevision, owner of Newsday.
The league has been under intense pressure from players, fans and sponsors since Sterling's comments to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, were reported by TMZ on its website Friday night. Sterling objected to the fact that Stiviano had posted a photograph of herself with Magic Johnson on Instagram. He then asked her not to bring Johnson or other black people to his games.
Since then, almost every Clippers sponsor has ended or announced they were taking a break from their association with the team. The players' union also considered boycotting Tuesday night's playoff games before Silver made his announcement.
Tale of the tape. An attorney representing the woman Sterling was talking to when he made racist remarks said the hourlong conversation was taped by mutual agreement last September and provided for the sake of safekeeping to a friend, who then leaked it to TMZ.
Lawyer Siamak Nehoray said Stiviano sent two snippets of the conversation, recorded in her Los Angeles duplex, to a friend who released them without her permission. Nehoray says Stiviano, 31, learned they would become public only after TMZ contacted her.
In March, Sterling's wife, Rochelle, sued Stiviano, seeking the return of more than $2.5 million in gifts Stiviano allegedly received from her husband. -- AP