And in many ways, Sterling is barely an owner any more.
Silver had to do this, and he had to do it with exactly this sort of no-holds-barred performance. Silver had to do it for the players, who instantly cheered his lifetime ban of Sterling and his urging of other NBA owners to force Sterling to sell the team.
Silver had to do it for the league, which cannot tolerate a man like Sterling operating as a 1/30th partner - not after that audio tape threw his reprehensible thoughts into public view.
And Silver had to do it for himself, to maintain any credibility with his players, coaches, executives and the NBA universe at large.
Everything would've only gotten worse if Silver dithered or equivocated about Sterling's racist comments on a secretly recorded audio tape, and Game 5 is tonight at Staples Center.
But instead, Silver announced that the league has concluded that it was indeed Sterling's voice on the tape, and then Silver issued the maximum penalty that he could - in addition, a $2.5M fine - and made it very clear that the line has been drawn, and that Sterling has crossed it.
Now it's up to the other owners to see if they can get the 75% vote to force Sterling out, but if Silver is as canny as he sounds, he almost certainly didn't step to that podium without knowing the consensus.
"I fully intend to get the support I need from the other NBA owners to remove him," Silver said.
There surely will be some kind of legal struggle in this, because Sterling is a famous litigator, and that almost is certainly why previous commissioner David Stern looked past all of Sterling's previous brushes with controversy and charges of racism.
But the NBA is a business and it just decided it's bad business to have Sterling as one of the partners, and I cannot disagree with any of that.
This will be a very, very, very, very interesting night at Staples Center. An unprecedented night.
Surely the atmosphere will be unpredictable and the basketball, once again, will be mostly a secondary issue.
But don't expect the Clippers organization to mourn the banning of its owner - the team website already posted the words "We Are One" just moments after the ban was announced.
I would think that the Clippers players will make some kind of statement, as they did in Game 4, in protest. Only tonight, I'd imagine it will be some sort of celebration, or a thank you to Silver for taking such a clear stance.
And what a way for this to turn: From seething anger and potential for racial strife, right on the court, to the real possibility that the Clipper players (and the Warriors players, too) salute their commissioner for doing what's right, and what he had to do.
For him, for them, for just about everybody.
Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.