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Spike Lee: 'Donald Sterling is tainting America'

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Apr 29, 2014 | 11:44am EDT

Outspoken moviemaker Spike Lee has waded into the racism drama swirling around the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, insisting remarks attributed to Donald Sterling are "tainting the league and tainting America". Sterling hit the headlines over the weekend (26Apr14) when audio of him rebuking a girlfriend for posting a photo of herself with black basketball legend Magic Johnson on Instagram went viral. The ill-advised remarks prompted an immediate backlash, with celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Lil Wayne and Clippers fan Queen Latifah calling for a boycott of Sterling's team, which is currently competing in the NBA play-offs. And now basketball superfan Lee has added his thoughts to the mix, telling CNN that Sterling's remarks make the Clippers boss look like a slave owner. He says, "I don't know the bylaws of the league but he (Sterling) has to go... because he's tainting all the other 29 partners, he's tainting the league, and he's tainting America. "When you hear something like that, that is the mentality of a slave master. He sees his players as slaves." Oprah Winfrey has also commented on the drama, telling U.S. breakfast news show This Morning that Sterling's remarks suggest "a plantation mentality in the 21st Century". Meanwhile, Lee insists he's not surprised by the drama surrounding Sterling, revealing that his cousin Baron Davis, who played for the Clippers from 2008 to 2011, told him "a whole lot of stuff" about the owner. He adds, "People say, 'Well doesn't he (Sterling) know that all his players are black?' Masters knew that too when we were out there in the cotton fields working." At a press conference on Tuesday (29Apr14), National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver handed Sterling a lifetime ban from NBA games and related activities, and fined him $2.5 million (£1.6 million). He will also be stripped of ownership of the Clippers. Silver claims he has the full support of several basketball franchise owners to force the sale of the team. The commissioner arrived at his decision after interviewing Sterling and determining that the voice on the audio, obtained by TMZ.com, was his. He said, "Mr. Sterling acknowledged that it was his voice on the tape." Silver called the Clippers boss' remarks "hateful" and "deeply offensive".

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