Former and current NBA players were almost as quick in their praise for Silver, who became the league's commissioner just two months ago.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, said he was "just really thrilled" with Silver's punishment of Sterling, which also included a $2.5 million fine.
"He handled it the right way," Abdul-Jabbar said at a Tuesday news conference in Los Angeles immediately after Silver announced his decision. "It's going to be a new day here in this city."
In a racially charged audio recording made public over the weekend, Sterling argued with a female friend about her association with black people, including Magic Johnson.
The players' union was satisfied with Silver's decision but wanted one more thing, said Vice President Roger Mason Jr.
"We want a timetable from owners" for a vote on Sterling's future fate, Mason said.
Silver banned Sterling for life but a vote from three-fourths of the NBA's owners would strip Sterling of his ownership of the Clippers, something Silver could not effectively do on his own. Silver said he was confident owners would vote in favor of forcing Sterling to sell the Clippers.
For now, Sterling is banned from attending NBA games and practices, and making franchise decisions regarding player personnel and business dealings.
Johnson said on Twitter that Silver "showed great leadership" in banning Sterling for life. Shaquille O'Neal weighed on Twitter in with "Way to go, Commissioner Silver! The NBA stands for everybody!"