NBA’s use of ‘hammer’ on Donald Sterling welcomed by Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Tuesday praised NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for “bringing down the hammer” on Clippers owner Donald Sterling, capping four days of pressure from the city’s political leaders over remarks said to be made by Sterling about African Americans.

“Today we feel like justice has begun to be served,” said Garcetti, appearing outside City Hall with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player and representative of the National Basketball Players Assn.

Garcetti had gathered in his office minutes earlier with Johnson and several other current and former professional basketball players to watch Silver’s televised news conference in which he said he was banning Sterling from the NBA for life. Minutes later, Johnson told reporters that the NBA’s decision, which prohibits Sterling from attending games or appearing at Clippers facilities, delivered “a statement about where we are as a country.”


“I hope that every bigot in this country sees what happened to Mr. Sterling, and recognizes that if he can fall, so can you,” Johnson said.

The celebrity website TMZ posted an audio recording Friday and named Sterling as the person 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.” Silver said at a Tuesday news conference that the NBA had determined the voice was Sterling’s.

Once the recording became public, the city’s elected leaders began exerting pressure on the NBA in different ways.

Councilman Bernard C. Parks called for Sterling to be treated the same way that Marge Schott, the onetime owner of the Cincinnati Reds, was treated. Schott faced suspensions after making remarks about black, Jewish and Japanese people. Councilman Curren Price said he would not attend Clippers games until Sterling was no longer owner -- even though the venue where the team plays is in his district. And Council President Herb Wesson called Monday for a third-party review of Sterling’s activities, including a determination of whether non-discrimination laws had been broken at the Clippers.

Garcetti called for a transition to new ownership for the team in the quickest time frame possible. On Tuesday, he thanked Wesson and other lawmakers for their advocacy on the Sterling matter.

“I know Councilmen Curren Price and Bernard Parks had spoken out and introduced motions that might have even influenced the commissioner,” he said.

Garcetti was joined by several other council members, along with sports figures such as Lakers point guard Steve Nash and ex-Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Abdul-Jabbar said he was so troubled by the Sterling controversy that he had lost sleep in recent days. Sitting in the office of Deputy Mayor Doane Liu, he watched television with Garcetti and others as Silver announced his penalty against Sterling.

“You should have heard us in there when we were listening to the press conference,” he said. “We all started clapping.”

Twitter: @davidzahniser