By Brandon Mercer

(CBS SF) — In an NBA news conference Tuesday afternoon, commissioner Adam Silver is expected to speak about the audio recording purportedly of Donald Sterling telling a friend he didn’t want Black people at Clippers games.

Tuesday morning, NBA lawyers confirmed the authenticity of the tape, according to TMZ.

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Silver could announce fines, sanctions or the process of sanctioning the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers after TMZ posted a 10-minute audio clip on Saturday of Sterling reportedly talking to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, who is Mexican and Black, about not bringing Blacks to Clipper games, and not posting pictures of Blacks to Instagram.  She is currently facing a lawsuit from Sterling’s wife.

KEY FACTS ABOUT STIVIANO: Lawsuit Filed Amid Allegations Of Wrong Doing

Sterling could be suspended for life or fined up to a million dollars, among other punishments.

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Clippers management has said the comments do not reflect Sterling’s views, and supporters including Donald Trump say while the comments are reprehensible, Sterling was baited and set up by a vindictive girlfriend.  Additionally, if the recording was made in California, it would also be illegal as both parties in a recording must consent to being recorded.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who also heads a committee with the National Basketball Players Association, sent an email to Silver outlining what punishments the players expect.  This includes keeping Sterling from attending any games through the playoffs, give players a full accounting of the prior racism charges against him and why there was no NBA action then, explain the range of sanctions available if the audio recording is found to be accurate, and carry out this process within seven days.

Johnson also made a public plea on his Facebook page for action, saying in part:

…But this much is true: how we choose to deal with Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will absolutely be a defining moment in the NBA.

Sports is an amazing convener. It has the power to bridge racial divides. And that’s what makes this incident especially disappointing.

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But we can take advantage of this crisis. To do so, we need only to embrace sports as an agent of change. We have a unique opportunity to show that this ill-fated event will not become an illustration of our broader society. In fact, we can use this incident to show that our society will not tolerate such behavior.

The NBA and its new commissioner, Adam Silver, have the opportunity to send a clear message that there is no room for racism in our sport. By doing so, they can set the bar for what clear, decisive action to address reprehensible behavior looks like.

I’m honored to have been asked by the NBA Players Association to lead the effort to attend to this issue from the players’ standpoint. Over the past few days I’ve talked to our Executive Committee, Player Representatives, members of the full body and past players. All of us are united in our belief that we must be actively engaged in bringing this issue to resolution quickly and definitively. This experience has brought together current and former players, united for a cause that will make our sport better for future players. Our collective voice has become stronger as a result of this crisis.

Mr. Sterling’s comments represent the worst of ignorance and intolerance. Despite that, we cannot sit idly by and watch him implode. While some would argue that we should watch with glee as this racist business owner destroys himself, for the sake of the NBA, we must intervene and engage to bring this to resolution swiftly.

Current and former players are in strong agreement that Mr. Sterling and his views have no place in our league. To that end, the NBPA has asked Commissioner Silver to impose the most severe sanctions possible under the NBA bylaws. We may not have the power to force Mr. Sterling to sell his team, but make no mistake, we believe that Mr. Sterling should no longer have the privilege of being an owner of an NBA team. After all, how can we expect any player (the majority of whom are African-American) to want to work for him?

At a minimum, Mr. Sterling should be suspended indefinitely, banned from games, slapped with the maximum fine possible, and forced to extract himself from basketball operations. He should be required to name someone from his executive team or family to take over all duties related to the Clippers.

If the NBA takes this type of strong stand on this issue — and I have every confidence it will — it will prove to be a defining moment not just for the sport but for the entire nation. It will signal that the league is listening to its players and alum and treating them as valuable partners.

Then, we can get back to the business of basketball, and sports will once again have served to bridge the racial divide in our country rather than widen it.

KEVIN JOHNSON: Complete Facebook Post 

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