MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Facing his first major issue as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver said he plans to show restraint and allow an investigation to play out before imposing any sanctions on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling after an audio tape surfaced of Sterling purportedly making racist remarks.
Silver said Sterling was owed due process but that the league would move "extraordinarily quickly" in gathering and verifying facts surrounding the recording released by TMZ. In the interim, Sterling told the league he would not attend his team's playoff game Sunday at Golden State.
"All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy," Silver said. "The core of the investigation is understanding whether the tape is authentic, interviewing Mr. Sterling and interviewing the woman as well and understanding the context in which it was recorded."
Silver spent the day Saturday communicating with Sterling's fellow owners, Clippers coach Doc Rivers, point guard and players' union president Chris Paul, and league attorneys while flying into Memphis on a previously scheduled visit.
There are several issues for the commissioner, who took power Feb. 1. One would be to decide on some sort of direct punishment for the comments Sterling allegedly made to a girlfriend. The broader issue is whether to address Sterling's control of the team in the wake of years of lawsuits and anecdotes accusing him of discrimination both in business and personal dealings.
Silver left all options on the table for how the matter might be settled.
"There are broad powers in place under the NBA's constitution and bylaws that include a range of sanctions," Silver said. "All of those will be considered depending on the findings of our investigation."
After attending the Oklahoma City Thunder- Memphis Grizzlies game Saturday night, Silver is scheduled to fly to Oakland for the Clippers-Warriors game Sunday. It is possible Silver could meet with Sterling while in California.
"We intend to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible," Silver said. "I personally think the situation is most unfair to the Clippers players and coaches."
President Barack Obama also addressed the situation, calling the reported remarks "incredibly offensive" and expressing confidence in Silver and the NBA to handle the matter.
"I don't think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves," Obama said, speaking at a Sunday news conference in Malaysia. "When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything. You just let them talk. And that's what happened here."
Obama also said the United States still wrestles with "the legacy of race and slavery and segregation."
"Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country," Obama said. "It's got an awful lot of African-American players. It's steeped in African-American culture. And, I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this."