CarMax and Red Bull are the latest sponsors to cut ties with the Los Angeles Clippers organization following the release of an audio recording by TMZ in which team owner Donald Sterling allegedly made racist remarks.
In a statement from CarMax spokeswoman Catherine Gryp:
CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable. These views directly conflict with CarMax’s culture of respect for all individuals. While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for nine years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship.
Virgin America also ended its sponsorship of the Clippers, and noted that while they have cut ties with the team, they will “continue to support the fans and the players.”
State Farm and Kia Motors America have suspended their sponsorship and advertising obligations with the team. Kia is a major sponsor of the NBA at both the team and league level, sponsoring awards, studio shows and major events.
According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Sprint, Lumber Liquidators, and Chumash Indians have also suspended their association with the team.
The Chumash Indians have been the presenting sponsor of the Clippers for the last four years, and released this statement, via Rovell.
We’ve always been proud supporters of the Los Angeles Clippers, however, the recent statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner have forced us to reconsider our relationship. We remain supportive of the members of the team and we wish them the very best going forward. As a group that has long been marginalized itself, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the Chumash Casino Resort are especially sensitive to maintaining the dignity of all people. We cannot ignore any statement that causes harm or hurts any group. As a result, we’re withdrawing our sponsorship of the Clippers organization.
Sponsorpitch.com lists a number of other Clippers sponsors including Amtrak, Anheuser-Busch, and Yokohama.
The NBA and the Clippers organization continue to investigate whether the voice in the recording released by TMZ is in fact Sterling’s, and the league will be holding a news conference Tuesday in New York to announce “additional details” on the matter.
The players have a larger interest on how the league will deal with Sterling. Former NBA all-star and current mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson is acting as an advisor to the NBPA. They laid out five objectives for his group.
1. Ensure Donald Sterling does not attend any NBA games for the duration of the playoffs.
2. Want NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to give the union a full account of prior accusations of racism made against Sterling and why those were never sanctioned by the NBA.
3. Want the commissioner to explain the range of sanctions possible if accusations are found to be true and maximum of Silver’s abilities per bylaws.
4. Assurance from the commissioner that the Players Association will be engaged and considered full partners in this process moving forward.
5. Commissioner carries out process swiftly and decisively and acts unequivocally.
The bylaws of the NBA do contain provisions, under which the other team owners can try and force Sterling out of the league, but that will create long and expensive litigation in which Donald Sterling is going to defend himself by saying “you may not like my opinions, but they are opinions and you can’t take my business away from me because of my opinions.”
Right now, it looks like Sterling will be fined a substantial amount of money and suspended from the active management of the Clippers.