Businessman and former NBA star Magic Johnson smiles while speaking to members of the media during a press conference on Tuesday, April 29, 2014, in Saginaw, Mich. Johnson spoke about Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, whom NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned for life from the league on Tuesday.Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
SAGINAW, Mich. — Hall of Fame basketball player Magic Johnson said the decision to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life from any association with the NBA for making racist comments marks "a great day for the United States."
Johnson on Tuesday reacted to the punishment for Sterling announced earlier in the day by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that included a $2.5 million fine. Silver also called on NBA owners to force Sterling to sell the team.
"It was a great day for the United States," Johnson told reporters in Saginaw, Mich. "It was a great day for the NBA and it was a great day for all people of all races, but especially African-Americans and Latinos who he was speaking out against."
TMZ released an audio recording last weekend of Sterling talking to a female companion. In the recording, Sterling questions her association with minorities, including Johnson.
"I'm just happy that Commissioner Adam Silver came down hard and showed that we can't let people get away with this, even if you're an owner," Johnson said. "I hope that the fans now return to the Clipper games ... and the Clipper players can move forward, too, and all of us."
Johnson, who grew up in Lansing, Mich., and played at Michigan State, was in Saginaw for the "Magic of a Promise" fundraiser.