Sponsors Distance Themselves From Clippers In Wake Of Alleged Sterling Comments
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Several sponsors of the Los Angeles Clippers Monday announced they were distancing themselves from the organization in wake of team’s owner Donald Sterling’s alleged racist remarks.
The following corporations have pulled sponsorship of the team:
Mercedes-Benz: “Mercedes-Benz is obviously concerned about the alleged comments attributed to the Clippers’ owner. We find these comments to be deplorable and completely against the values we promote as an organization. Our dealer group shares our concern and has moved to cease its sponsorship of the Clippers effective immediately, despite their affinity for the Clippers and their fans.”
CarMax: “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 9 years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship.”
Virgin America: “While we continue to support the fans and the players, Virgin America has made the decision to end its sponsorship of the L.A. Clippers.”
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians: “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.”
Several other companies announced they have put their current relationships with the organization on hold:
Kia Motors America: “The comments allegedly made by Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, are offensive and reprehensible, and they are inconsistent with our views and values. We are suspending our advertising and sponsorship activations with the Clippers. Meanwhile, as fans of the game of basketball, our support of the players and the sport is unwavering.”
State Farm: “The remarks attributed to the Clippers’ owner are offensive. While those involved sort out the facts, we will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization. We are monitoring the situation and we’ll continually assess our options. We have a great relationship with Chris Paul and will continue supporting the Born to Assist advertising campaign involving Chris and now other NBA players.”
Red Bull: “We trust and respect the NBA’s process to formally investigate the matter, and in the interim, are suspending all team-related marketing activities. We will continue to support our Red Bull athlete, Blake Griffin, his teammates and coaching staff in their pursuit of an NBA title.”
Sprint: “Sprint has suspended all marketing activities with the Los Angeles Clippers, pending the NBA’s investigation. We deplore the reprehensible comments expressed in the audiotape.”
LoanMart: “The statements allegedly made by Donald Sterling are completely inconsistent with the views and ethics of the LoanMart organization. As a result, LoanMart is suspending our advertising and sponsorship activities for the Los Angeles Clippers for the time being and will continue to monitor the situation for further developments. We want to emphasize our continued support for the Clippers players, coaching staff and fans during this difficult time.”
Yokohama Tires: “Yokohama Tire Corporation does not tolerate discrimination in any fashion. The alleged remarks by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling are completely unacceptable and we find it necessary to immediately suspend our sponsorship of the organization as a result. We will continue to assess the situation and weigh our options. Meanwhile, we wish to express our continued support to the Clippers players and fans.”
AQUAhydrate: “In the wake of Sterling’s alleged intolerable comments we are suspending our Clippers sponsorship until the NBA completes its investigation.”
Commerce Hotel & Casino: “The Commerce Hotel & Casino has enjoyed being a sponsor of the LA Clippers for the past 18 years. The arena experience for fans and the reputation the team has maintained is why we have aligned with the franchise. We know the NBA is reviewing the matter and we expect the NBA will quickly provide its findings and explain any action it will take. At this time, we are suspending our relationship with the LA Clippers pending the outcome of that review.”
Constellation Brands/Corona: “Like everyone else, Corona is appalled by the comments allegedly made by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. These comments run counter to the type of brand Corona aspires to be. Because of this, we are suspending our sponsorship agreement with the Clippers until the NBA completes its investigation.”
AMTRAK: “Amtrak believes the language used is unacceptable and is inconsistent with our corporate belief to treat everyone with integrity and dignity. Our sponsorship with the LA Clippers expires at the end of the regular season a few weeks ago. As with any sponsorship advertising, some assets remain in the market — to that end, we are diligently working to remove all sponsorship assets. Moving forward, we will continue to monitor the situation as we look to make decisions about 2014-2015 sports marketing sponsorships.”
AQUAHYDRATE: “In the wake of Sterling’s alleged intolerable comments, we are suspending our Clippers sponsorship until the NBA completes its investigation.”
STAPLES Center: “We are deeply troubled by these disturbing remarks which go against everything we believe in as an organization. We support the players, the coaches, the rest of the team and their fans and we are committed to providing a safe, secure and welcoming environment for everyone at tomorrow night’s NBA playoff game.”
In an audio clip released by TMZ on Saturday, a man believed to be Sterling allegedly tells his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, who is of African-American and Mexican descent, not to broadcast her association with “black people” at Clipper’s games. The audio clip was released shortly after she posted a picture of herself with Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson on Instagram — which has since been removed.
KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports legal analyst Royal Oakes says one overlooked aspect of the Sterling case is the fact that it’s illegal under California law to secretly record a conversation without proper disclosure.
“It’s a misdemeanor to tape record a personal conversation where people expect privacy, they know nobody’s around,” Oakes said. “You really don’t have a right under the law to tape record somebody else.”
Donald Sterling’s wife filed a lawsuit last month against Stiviano asking her to return all cash, land, expensive cars and other items Sterling allegedly gave to her while they were engaged in a relationship.
The team canceled practice Monday. Game 5 of the series will be played in Los Angeles Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti weighed in Monday on the firestorm: “I want the players to know that this city is behind them and they’re welcome in L.A.”
Garcetti planned to have a conversation with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver later Monday.
“We want the strongest penalties. And I think there’s no place for racism at the top of any company in this town,” the mayor said.
Prior to the controversy, Sterling was slated to be honored with a lifetime achievement award by the L.A. chapter of the NAACP at the civil rights organization’s 100th anniversary gala banquet on May 15.
Interim President and CEO Lorraine C. Miller said in a statement on Sunday he will not be receiving that award. The organization said during a news conference Monday they will return all donations Sterling had made to them.
“He also has, over the years we looked at, has contributed to several minority organizations, including the NAACP,” NAACP President Leon Jenkins said.
“We had statements from the ’80s where he said he wanted to have a white, Southern coach coach a team of black players because he thought the team would be more compliant,” according to attorney Carl Douglas, who represented former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor in a lawsuit against Sterling. “Danny Manning was a first-round draft choice in the ’80s. He told Danny Manning, ‘This is a lot of money for a poor black kid.’ The only color that matters to Donald Sterling is green.”
Baylor lost his suit, alleging racial and age discrimination, in a jury trial. Douglas said that was because key evidence, alleging racism, was tossed out by the judge.
The NBA is scheduled to hold a news conference Tuesday regarding its investigation into the audio clip.