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MINNEAPOLIS - NBA Commissioner Adam Silver lowered the boom Tuesday on L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

The punishment coming just days after audio tapes of Sterling making racist remarks were leaked to TMZ.

"Effective immediately, I am banning Mr. Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or the NBA," said Silver at a news conference.

Silver didn't end there. He also fined Sterling $2.5 million, the most allowed under the NBA constitution, and he vowed to use his power to make him sell the team.

"I will urge the board to governors to force a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that happens," Silver said.

A lifetime ban, a fine and a forced sale. It has many wondering if the commissioner even has that kind of power. The short answer, is yes.

"The commissioner has got a responsibility and a duty and the power to act in the best interest of the league," says St. Thomas Sports Law Professor John Wendt.

Wendt says when the actions of one person affect the reputation and profitability of the league, the league can step in. Ultimately, though, the sale will be up to the executive board of owners.

"As Chairman of the Board, I'm willing to get behind that and work to make sure we get the right outcome here," said Glen Taylor, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Taylor will be instrumental in how this moves forward. A super-majority of owners or 75 percent will be needed. Taylor doesn't think that will be an issue and he hopes Sterling will cooperate in the process.

"What we'd first want to do is try to sit down with Sterling or his rep and see if this is a transaction we can work together on in getting the sale done mutually and then go through the normal sales process," said Taylor.

The big question is how do players, past and present, feel about the decision? Those who have spoken up have praised it, including former L.A. Laker and Minnesotan, Devean George.

"I think he acted dead on. I think he did the right thing, and I think the owners are going to do the right thing, too," said George.

Some have questioned the punishment over personal comments made during a private conversation, but Tuesday's ruling makes it perfectly clear, private or not, prejudice and racism will not be tolerated in the NBA.

Sterling does have some recourse. He can fight back through the arbitration process, but he's not expected to lose any money in the deal.

Wendt believes the Clippers will still sell at fair market value, which is roughly about $1 billion. Considering Sterling bought the team for $12 million years ago, it's a pretty high rate of return.

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