Clippers' owner cast out over racist remarks
Donald Sterling has been denounced by his team and other high profile figures over the series of shockingly racist remarks he allegedly made.PT2M15S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-37dbc 620 349 April 28, 2014
High-profile sponsors have started abandoning the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team following racist remarks allegedly made by the team's billionaire owner, Donald Sterling.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is due to make an announcement on Tuesday about the league's investigation of Sterling, whose team is valued at $US575 million ($620.9 million) by Forbes magazine.
But the financial fall-out has been immediate, with sponsors including Kia Motors, Virgin America, Red Bull, Aquahydrate, CarMax, Yokohama Tire and State Farm Insurance all distancing themselves from the team.
Race row: Owner of the LA Clippers, Donald Sterling. Photo: AP
The comments attributed to Sterling, heard in a recording first made public by celebrity news website TMZ at the weekend, have set off a firestorm around the 80-year-old real estate tycoon.
In the recording, a man, believed to be Sterling, says to a woman that he does not want her associating with black people or bringing black friends to Clippers games.
The woman, identified as V. Stiviano, has frequently been seen with Sterling, who has been married for more than 50 years but who is estranged from his wife. Ms Stiviano, 31, identifies herself as Mexican and black.
Sterling with V. Stiviano at a Clippers game last year. Photo: AP
"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to?" the man says in the recording, later adding, "You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it ... and not to bring them to my games."
A statement released by Kia Motors on Monday, US time, said: "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.”
Auto dealer CarMax pulled its sponsorship of the Clippers, saying the statements attributed to Sterling were "completely unacceptable."
The Clippers have lost sponsors over comments made by the club's owner. Photo: Getty Images
"These views directly conflict with CarMax's culture of respect for all individuals," it said in a statement released to ESPN.
"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."
A representative for Virgin America told TMZ the airline was dropping its sponsorship.
"While we continue to support the fans and the players, Virgin America has made the decision to end its sponsorship of the LA Clippers," the representative said.
The LA Clippers players - in the middle of a first-round playoff battle with the Golden State Warriors - staged a silent on-court protest on Sunday, and NBA luminaries have called for the league to take tough action against Sterling.
Sterling's estranged wife Rochelle upped the ante when she said the voice in the recording was indeed that of her husband. On Sunday, she sat courtside at the Clippers' game wearing all black.
"Our family is devastated by the racist comments made by my estranged husband. My children and I do not share these despicable views or prejudices," she said in a statement.
"We will not let one man's small mindedness poison the spirit of the fans and accomplishments of the team in the city we love. We are doing everything in our power to stand by and support our Clippers team."
The NBA - facing mounting pressure to take tough action against Sterling - said on Monday that Commissioner Adam Silver would address the media on Tuesday, US time.
Silver said that the NBA would "move extraordinary quickly in our investigation"
smh.com.au, with AFP, Reuters