RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Friends of embattled Los Angeles Clippers' owner Donald Sterling are responding to the NBA's decision to ban him from the game for life after a recording of racist comments made by the 80-year-old surfaced.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver delivered the swiftest, strongest penalty he could, then called on NBA owners to force Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling to sell the team for making racist comments that hurt the league. Sterling is banned for life from any association with the league or the Clippers, and was fined $2.5 million — the maximum allowable under the NBA constitution. If three-fourths of the other 29 owners agree to Silver's recommendation, Sterling will be forced to sell the team he has owned since 1981.
Local attorney Dale Gribow, who's known Sterling for 40 years says he's still shocked by the comments Sterling made and agrees with Silver's decision. "I think it's the right thing to do," said Gribow. "He offended mankind."
Sterling and Gribow met while working as lawyers in Los Angeles, nearly four decades ago. When Sterling bought the Clippers, he gave Gribow court side seats. Gribow says knowing Sterling this long only makes his racist comments all the more disturbing. "He's never expressed any racist thoughts prior to this barrage," said Gribow.
What makes seeing the negative spotlight on Sterling even harder for Gribow, is knowing the faith and community they share. "It's a small group of people that are Jewish and you don't want to see a Jewish person doing anything wrong," said Gribow.
While the owners vote on whether or not to force Sterling to sell the team, some say the NBA should've acted sooner. Former NBA star, now mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson wants a full account of prior accusations of racism against Sterling. Things Gribow says he never know, and if true, certainly would've change how he felt about his old friend. "I may not have believed it years ago, but hearing what he said today gives some merit to the prior accusations."
Gribow says he hopes to reach out to Sterling soon, and when he does, wants to give him this advice. "Sell the team, put all this behind you, take the money you were going to make, travel and enjoy life."