LOS ANGELES: Wary sponsors lined up to dump the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) as pressure mounted over racist remarks allegedly made by the NBA team’s owner, the embattled billionaire Donald Sterling.
Among them was a water brand owned by rap music star Sean “Diddy” Combs, as NBA said it would make an announcement on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) about the league’s investigation of Sterling, whose team is valued at $575 million by Forbes magazine.
Major sponsors Chumash Casino and used auto dealer CarMax pulled out of their deals with the Clippers, with CarMax saying the remarks attributed to Sterling were “completely unacceptable.”
“These views directly conflict with CarMax’s culture of respect for all individuals,” it said.
Chumash Casino, which is run by Native Americans, told ESPN that “we cannot ignore any statement that causes harm or hurts any group. As a result, we’re withdrawing our sponsorship of the Clippers organization.”
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, who bought the Clippers for $12 million in 1981.
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, who has remained silent since the remarks surfaced.
But Sterling’s estranged wife Rochelle upped the ante when she said on Monday the voice in the recording was that of her husband.