NEW YORK — Denouncing Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist comments in strong language, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the league has banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million.
"The central findings of the investigation are that the man whose voice is on the recordings ... is Mr. Sterling and that the hateful feelings are those of Mr. Sterling. The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply disturbing and alarming," Silver said.
"As for Mr. Sterling's ownership interest in the Clippers," Silver said. "I will urge the board of governors to force a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that happens."
Silver said he made the decision to ban Sterling Tuesday morning and that he will begin immediately the process of trying to get Sterling to sell the team.
"This has been a painful moment for all members of the NBA family," Silver said.
Social Reaction: Players, fans respond to NBA ban of Donald Sterling
Sliver said he didn't poll the owners, but did speak to several who he said supports the decision.
"The owners have the authority subject to 3/4 vote, to remove him as owner," Silver said.
In Silver's first seminal moment as commissioner since taking over for David Stern in February, he issued the heaviest penalty possible under his power, which is governed by the NBA's private constitution and bylaws.
Sponsors began pulled out Monday and Silver said marketing partners should judge NBA based on league's response to Sterling incident.
Promising a quick investigation, Silver said Sterling confirmed the voice on the audio is his and said the recording was not tampered with, as the Clippers suggested was possible in a statement on Saturday.
Comments by Sterling surfaced Saturday when TMZ posted the audio recording on its web site. In a conversation between he and a female friend, he chastised the woman for posting pictures of herself on Instagram with minorities, including Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Kemp.
"Why are you taking pictures with minorities, why?" Sterling said.
He continued: "Don't put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. … And don't bring him to my games, OK?" the person said on the audio recording.
"Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to promo, broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" Sterling also said.
"When I first heard the comments I was hoping it was doctored and hoping it wasn't Donald," Silver said. "I've known Donald for over 20 years.
"I haven't been that close to him, but never seen anything that would indicate that he held the views that were expressed in these audio tapes."
Former Seattle SuperSonics and Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Bob Whitsitt said the NBA's move to strip Donald Sterling of his team sets a new, important standard for other professional sports owners.
"This sends a bigger message I think to own a professional sports team," said Whitsitt, "To own an NBA team, it's more than just being a rich person. It's a huge responsibility."
KING 5's John Langeler contributed to this report