Every company sponsoring the Los Angeles Clippers decided doing so is a terrible idea after owner Donald Sterling's repulsive views of minorities are at the forefront more than ever.
Red Bull is "suspending all team-related marketing activities," the energy drink company said. State Farm announced it would "take a pause" from its relationship with the team. “We are monitoring the situation and we’ll continually assess our options," State Farm said, per a statement. CNBC's Ryan Ruggiero reported KIA (who also sponsor one of the Clippers' biggest stars, Blake Griffin) decided to suspend its sponsorship with the team. Amtrak is not sure whether it will renew their sponsorship with the team next season. (Update, 5:27 p.m. Corona just informed Buzzfeed it would suspend its agreement with the team, which means every corporate sponsor has fled the team since this weekend.)
Long-term sponsorship relationships are ending, too. CarMax's nine-year deal with the Clippers ended Monday. “CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable,” the company told TMZ. CNBC also reported Virgin America's termination of their sponsorship deal.
Complicating the matter is existing relationships between Clippers sponsors and the Clippers' star players. Red Bull has a separate agreement with Blake Griffin, the Clippers starting power forward, while State Farm sponsors starting point guard Chris Paul. Both of those agreements remain unchanged.
The players protested Sunday by collectively throwing their jerseys down at center court before game four against the Golden State Warriors. Clippers coach Doc Rivers "passed" on an invitation from Sterling to chat about the controversy. Rivers also said he's unsure whether he'll return to the team next year in the wake of Sterling's remarks. It seems only only people who make a living on human outrage have come to Sterling's defense. If it wasn't playoff time, an actual boycott might have come to pass.
All eyes now fall on new NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who will announce the results of the league's investigation Tuesday before Game Five of the playoff series between Los Angeles and Golden State. What the league can actually do to discipline Sterling is quite known, because of the secrecy that shrouds the NBA's constitution. Some think kicking Sterling to the curb is legally viable; others aren't so sure. Deadspin thinks the NBA, through Silver, could remove Sterling as owner with this bylaw, allegedly taken from the NBA's confidential constitution. (Update, 4:26 p.m. ESPN's Lester Munson reports the NBA could remove Sterling with a 3/4 vote from the Board of Governors.)
It's clear that Clippers players, plus plenty of other NBA legends, analysts, executives and players for other teams want Sterling removed as owner, similar to how Major League Baseball seized control of the Los Angeles Dodgers and sold them to Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Partners, who, it just so happens, are reportedly interested in taking the Clippers off Sterling's hands.