On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million, the maxium amount allowed by the NBA constitution. Silver also said he will urge the league’s Board of Governors to force the sale of the team. Sterling is only the latest pro sports owner to be punished, and none was ever punished so severely. A selective look back.
Schott was forced out as owner of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1990s after making a number of comments about blacks, Jews, gays and homosexuals. She also used the franchise to hide some shady business practices at her car dealership. Cindy Boren has the story.
As New York Yankees owner, Steinbrenner was punished multiple times. In 1974, Steinbrenner pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to President Richard M. Nixon’s presidential campaign and to a felony obstruction of justice charge. He was suspended by MLB for two years, a punishment that was later reduced to 15 months (he was also later pardoned by President Ronald Reagan). Steinbrenner also paid a gambler named Howie Spira $40,000 to dig up dirt on Winfield. MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent banned Steinbrenner from the game on July 30, 1990, a “permanent” suspension that lasted until 1993.
The Atlanta Braves’ owner was suspended for one year in 1977 for tampering with prospective free agent Gary Matthews while he was still playing for the San Francisco Giants.
Eddie DeBartolo Jr.
DeBartolo was suspended by the NFL for the 1999 season and fined $1 million after the San Francisco 49ers owner failed to report a felony arising from a Louisiana gambling fraud and extortion case, the New York Times reported.
Before Sterling, Taylor was the only other NBA owner ever to be suspended for more than a couple of games (Lakers owner Jerry Buss, for instance, was suspended for two games in 2007 after a drunken-driving conviction). In 2000, the NBA suspended Taylor for nearly a year and fined him $1 million for signing Joe Smith to a secret contract in violation of the league’s salary cap rules.
The NHL suspended the Anaheim Ducks owner in June 2008 after he pleaded guilty to lying to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a plea that was later thrown out by a U.S. District Court judge. He was reinstated in November 2009, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issuing a statement saying he regretted suspending Samueli.
The Capitals owner was suspended for one week and fined $100,000 by the NHL in January 2004 after getting into a physical confrontation with a fan at Verizon Center following a loss to the Flyers. Leonsis apologized to the fan.
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