Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that he would urge NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to take swift and strong action in response to racist remarks attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling, including barring Sterling from any remaining playoff games.
"I'm going to encourage him to take fast action and strong action, not just to condemn, but to make sure that Mr. Sterling is not part of these playoffs," Garcetti told reporters Monday at the Beverly Hilton, shortly after speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference.
Banning Sterling from those games, Garcetti added, is "just the beginning of what should happen."
The mayor said he had already consulted with Kevin Johnson -- a fellow mayor and former NBA basketball player -- about what action the NBA could take.
“It’s unclear what they have the formal mechanism to do ... But I think that there can be suspension, there certainly can be financial penalties, and long term we should be looking at whether this is the right ownership for the team,” Garcetti said.
“Owners retain certain rights. It's their property. But they're also part of a league that has a lot of authority … This isn't just about tainting the Los Angeles Clippers, this taints the entire National Basketball Association,” the mayor added.
Garcetti said he favors a transition to new ownership of the Clippers but acknowledged that will probably take time. "I'd be happy with it right away," the mayor said. "But I don't think the NBA has that power right away.”
The mayor said he did not plan to attend protests Tuesday outside Staples Center, saying he wanted players to be able to focus on the game with the Golden State Warriors. (The teams are tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven series.) He added, however, that he sympathized with the protesters.
The celebrity website TMZ posted an audio recording Friday that purportedly captures Sterling telling a woman identified as V. Stiviano that "it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people.” In the recording, the people identified as Stiviano and Sterling argued over the woman posting a photo of herself on Instagram alongside Magic Johnson.
An attorney for Stiviano told The Times that the recording was authentic. Clippers President Andy Roeser said in a statement Saturday that the team did not know if the man recorded was Sterling but that the comments didn't reflect Sterling's "views, beliefs or feelings."
Garcetti called the comments attributed to Sterling "reprehensible."
"This doesn't represent my city," said the mayor. "This is the most diverse, open-minded city on the face of the earth. If anything, people come here escaping prejudice, racism, discrimination. And for a team that isn't just a company -- it is a team with our name on it -- it's unacceptable, and I won't stand for it as mayor."
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