Clippers Sponsors Drop Like Flies, Sterling Fined $2.5m & Suspended Indefinitely
So far 15 sponsors have parted ways from the Los Angeles Clippers and the team’s owner Donald Sterling, whose racist remarks to former girlfriend V. Stiviano and decades of racist behavior have come to light.
On Monday, announcing their departure were CarMax, State Farm, Kia, Virgin America, Red Bull, Mercedes-Benz, LoanMart, Southern California Ford Dealers, Yokohama Tire, Burger King, Sprint, Samsung, the Commerce Hotel & Casino, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the company that makes Corona beer.
However, KIA and State Farm, which employ the team’s stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul as spokesmen, said their ad campaigns would continue to feature the players.
The termination or suspension of marketing partnerships swiftly follow audio leaked by Stiviano over the weekend, which features Sterling condemning her for associating with black people at his games, even though she is a black Latina.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling said.
The loss of sponsors may be the most severe consequence for the mess caused by Sterling, who paid $12 million for the team in 1981, and despite several years of losing, could sell the franchise for as much as $700 million.
Although the NBA has ignored a long history of allegations against Sterling, its fairly new commissioner, Adam Silver, will fine Sterling a mere $2.5 million, a drop in the bucket for a man worth $1.9 billion, and suspend him indefinitely.
While Silver will urge the other 29 team owners to force Sterling to sell the franchise, a three-fourths majority will make the final decision.
In Tuesday’s press conference, Silver also revealed that he has spoken to several owners who agree that Sterling should lose the team completely.
Silver stated that his decision was solely based on the recent audio of Sterling, who confirmed the authenticity, not previous racial misconduct. “When the board reviews his overall fitness as an owner, they will review his past behavior,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the players, Roger Mason, Jr. stated that they have demanded “an immediate vote” from the owners.