By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – The hits keep coming for the Los Angeles Clippers, with more sponsors separating themselves from the franchise with each passing hour.
The NBA will wait until 2 p.m. Tuesday to hold a press conference about racially charged comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, but at least half a dozen sponsors have already distanced themselves from the franchise.
Chumash Indians, the presenting sponsor of the Clippers for four years, is one of the latest groups to split.
“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,” the organization said in a statement, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN. “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.”
CarMax and Virgin America have also pulled the plug. State Farm, Kia, Red Bull and Sprint are suspending their partnerships. Lumber Liquidators is hitting pause on ads planned for next year, according to Rovell.
“CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable,” the company said in a statement, according to SI.com. “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.”
State Farm expressed similar sentiments.
“State Farm strongly supports and respects diversity and inclusion in its workforce and customers,” the company said in a statement, according to ESPN. “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.”
Several prominent voices, including superstar LeBron James and former superstar and Los Angeles Dodgers part owner Magic Johnson, have called for Sterling to sell the Clippers.
Chauncey Billups of the Detroit Pistons, who played for the Clippers from 2011-2013, agreed that Sterling should not be an owner. He hinted he would not have played for the Clippers had he known the sentiments Sterling harbored.