NBA commish Adam Silver is addressing comparisons between Donald Sterling and Suns owner Robert Sarver-- who was punished for allegedly saying the n-word -- calling the situations "dramatically different" from one another.
Sarver was slapped with a $10 million fine and one-year suspension on Tuesday after a lengthy NBA investigation showed the multi-millionaire owner repeated the n-word on at least five occasions and treated female employees differently, among other accusations.
Still, many people have raised Sterling's name ... asking why the former Los Angeles Clippers owner was banned forever (he also received a $2.5 million fine), while Sarver was hit with a relatively modest 365-day suspension.
Of course, TMZ Sports broke the Sterling story in 2014 ... when the real estate developer and team owner was heard berating "friend" V. Stiviano over a photo she took with Lakers legend Magic Johnson at Staples Center during a Clips game.
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with Black people. Do you have to?" Sterling asked Stiviano.
Sterling also told her ... "You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that ... and not to bring them to my games."
Silver explained why he believes the Sterling situation is far worse than Sarver.
"I was in disbelief to a certain extent about what I learned had transpired over the last 18 years in the Suns organization. I was saddened by it, disheartened, I want to again apologize to the former and in some cases current employees of the Phoneix Suns for what they had to experience, there's absolutely no excuse for it, and we addressed it."
Ultimately, Sterling was essentially forced to sell the team to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. Meanwhile, Sarver will be back sitting courtside before the calendar reads 2024 ... and that's not sitting right with many NBA fans.