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Robert Tuchman, president of Goviva marketing agency, said the suspension announcement was Silver's first step in getting Sterling out of the NBA for good.
Read More: NBA Says Donald Sterling Banned for Life
"As part of the lifetime ban, Mr. Sterling may not attend any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team," Silver said today. "He will also be barred from attending NBA Board of Governors meetings and participating in any other league activity."
Silver said Sterling would not be able to participate in any business or player personnel decisions.
It may be the harshest penalty on an owner in the NBA, if not any major sports league.
Michael McCann, director of the University of New Hampshire's Law Sports and Entertainment Law Institute, said there's no precedent for kicking an owner out of the NBA. The NBA's constitution is confidential but reportedly has language allowing owners to authorize the league to sell a team without an owner's consent, McCann said, but it's likely related to situations when an owner can't pay the bills.
"It is going to get very interesting because all of these people work for him, including the commissioner," Tuchman said.
Among the longest owner suspensions in professional sports was when Major League Baseball twice suspended Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, for one year and two years, respectively in 1993 and 1996, when she made racist remarks about African Americans and favorable comments about Adolph Hitler. She eventually sold the team in 1999.
Tuchman notes, "There are ways around everything and you will find the owner being able to get around them from a management standpoint."
The late Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss was suspended for two games after being found guilty of driving under the influence in 2007.
Major League Baseball once suspended the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for hiring a private investigator to conduct negative research on Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.
Ron Artest, then of the Pacers, was suspended for 86 games (73 plus 13 playoff games) for a game brawl in 2004 -- the longest non-drug related suspension in the NBA.
When asked by a reporter during today's news conference if Sterling could be an absentee owner, Silver said, "I fully expect to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him," referring to the three-quarters vote needed by the NBA board of governors to force the sale of the Clippers.
Silver said no decision has been made about other members of the Sterling family and that the ruling applies specifically to the family patriarch.
"He is noted as one of the worst owners not only in the NBA but all of sports," Tuchman said. "What is ironic this is probably the best Clippers team ever. There's something to be said about bad karma."