NBA Commissioner Adam Silver urged Clippers sponsors to return to backing the team after the league fined owner Donald Sterling $2.5 million and banned him from associating with either the Clippers or the NBA for life.
“Those marketing partners of the Clippers and partners of the entire NBA should judge us on our response to this incident,” Silver said at a press conference Tuesday morning that was held to address racist remarks allegedly made by Sterling.
“I would hope that they would return to their business relationship with the Clippers,” Silver said of the sponsors, more than 15 of which suspended or cut ties with the team since Friday night, when celebrity gossip website TMZ posted an audio file featuring a man said to Sterling.
Kia, Red Bull and State Farm -- all of which have featured Clippers players in their promotional materials -- backed away from the team, as did national and local advertisers such as CarMax, Virgin America, Corona, Commerce Hotel & Casino and Samsung.
After Tuesday’s news conference, Burger King -- which had said it would suspend its Clippers advertising -- issued a statement applauding the NBA’s sanctions against Sterling. The company said it was “working to determine our course of action with regard to future sponsorship activities.”
[Updated, April 29, 12:50 p.m.: Kia said in a statement it "appreciates and wholeheartedly endorses Commissioner Silver's decisive action."
"We look forward to a positive resolution and continuing our relationships within the NBA community, including our league and team sponsorships and our personal ties to Blake Griffin,” the automaker said.
State Farm echoed Kia's sentiments about Silver's censure of Sterling but said it is "continuing the pause of our sponsorship of the Clippers organization as we evaluate this ongoing situation."]
[Updated, April 29, 1:30 p.m.: CarMax, a Clippers sponsor for nine years, reiterated that it had ended its sponsorship of the team but added executives “welcome the opportunity to discuss future sponsorship if this matter is fully resolved.”
The Southern California Ford Dealers said it will “revisit our direction with the L.A. Clippers” based on the NBA’s action against Sterling.]
Silver also indicated he would ask NBA owners and the board of governors to force Sterling to sell the team.
The Clippers are set to face the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on Tuesday night in Game 5 of their best-of-seven playoff series.
[Updated, April 29, 2 p.m.: Adidas decided to reinstate its marketing partnership with the Clippers, expressing full support of the fine and ban against Sterling.
“While our sponsorship is reinstated, tonight our traditional ads and logo placements will be replaced with the Clippers logo and “We Are One” to support the team and fans in the healing process,” the company said in a statement.]