(CNN) -- Basketball Commissioner Adam Silver slapped Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with a lifetime ban from the sport and a $2.5 million fine Tuesday over racist remarks attributed to Sterling.
Silver said the National Basketball Association "will begin immediately" to force Sterling to sell the team, which he has owned since the 1980s. Sterling admitted it was his voice on the recording, Silver said.
Before Tuesday's announcement, the head of the league's players association had called for Silver to hit Sterling with the most severe penalties.
"When a hint of cancer is shown, you have to cut it out immediately, and I feel that's where the players are today," Kevin Johnson, the former all-star who is the chairman of the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee, told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."
Johnson said the players trust that the new commissioner, on the job for less than three months, will find the right penalties for Sterling.
"They don't think he's worthy to be an owner," said Johnson, also the mayor of Sacramento, "so whether there's a sanction that includes a suspension, whether there's a sanction that includes a hefty fine ... the players feel very strongly that he's not fit to be an owner and a part of this NBA family."
Former NBA player Thurl Bailey, a broadcaster for the Utah Jazz, told CNN that if Sterling merely received some kind of suspension, that would be an inadequate way to address the issue.
Bailey said he recognized Sterling's voice on recordings that were posted online that are at the center of the controversy.
"For me, that was his voice," Bailey said.