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Sponsors dropping the NBA's L.A. Clippers after airing of owner's racist comments

(April 28, 2014) The firestorm of reactions to the racist comments allegedly made by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, Donald Sterling, has now drawn a response from advertisers.

Statements from CarMax and Virgin America are both cited in press reports saying they have ended all sponsorship agreements with the Clippers. State Farm, Red Bull, Kia, Virgin America, Amtrak, Sprint, Corona, Yokohama Tire Corporation and Mercedes-Benz have said that they will suspend their advertising commitments with the Clippers until the NBA has completed its investigation.

NBA All-Star, Michael Jordan, said he's both disgusted and outraged by the racist comments allegedly made by Sterling. Jordan, now the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, released a statement saying that as an owner, "I'm completely disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views."

"There is no room in the NBA -- or anywhere else -- for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed," Jordan said. "I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level."

The NBA, according to its new commissioner, Adam Silver, is looking into the authenticity of the recordings aired on TMZ. In those recordings Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano are heard arguing about her friendship with Black people. Stiviano, who is a black Latina, posted photos on Instagram of herself with black people, including one with Magic Johnson.

Sterling is heard saying, "It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people," he is heard saying. "Do you have to?" Stiviano replies that all she did was take a picture with someone she admires.

"I think the fact that you admire [Magic] -- I've known him well, and he should be admired," continues Sterling. "And I'm just saying that it's too bad you can't admire him privately. And during your entire f**king life, your whole life, admire him -- bring him here, feed him, f**k him, I don't care. You can do anything. But don't put him on an Instagram for the world to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games. OK?"

Magic Johnson, in responding the release of the audio tapes, said that Sterling should be striped of his ownership of the Clippers. He apparently is offering a plan to make that possible. Yahoo Sports, citing an anonymous NBA official, is reporting that Johnson and Guggenheim Partners, his investment backers, have expressed interest in purchasing the basketball team. The group currently owns a major interest in the Los Angeles Dodgers and just two months ago, bought the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks franchise.


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