Lifetime ban on LA Clippers owner could entice sponsors to return

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 2, 2014

The corporate sponsors of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team – like Kia Motors America, Mercedes-Benz and CarMax -- may soon come back after the National Basketball Association banned owner Donald Sterling for life. Sterling was recorded as making racist remarks, for which he was also fined $2.5 million.

His remarks sparked nationwide outrage from people both inside and outside of the NBA. The remarks as well as remonstrations have led a number of companies and firms to cancel or suspend their sponsorships of the Clippers. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he will commence the process of compelling Sterling to sell the Clippers.

Kia Motors America, which is also the official automotive partner of the NBA, said that it appreciates and endorses Commissioner Silver’s “decisive action.” The carmaker has said that while its corporate sponsorship of the Clippers has been suspended, its relationship with franchise player Blake Griffin would continue.

Kia said that its stands with the Silver, the NBA, the players and the fans in condemning Sterling’s views. CarMax, on the other hand, had been sponsoring the Clippers for nine seasons, making it one of the franchise’s longest-serving corporate partners. It was also the first club sponsor to abandon the Clippers following Sterling’s remarks.

The company, however, wouldn’t rule out sponsoring the team once again, saying that it would discuss future sponsorship if the matter is fully resolved. Three sponsors cancelled their backing of the Clippers -- Mercedes-Benz, CarMax and Virgin America.

Other sponsors like Diageo, Kia, State Farm, Red Bull, Sprint, Corona, Aqua Hydrate, Burger King and Commerce Hotel & Casino have either suspended or put hold their sponsorship of the club.

In a statement, Mercedes applauded the NBA’s decision to ban and fine Sterling, adding that it is evaluating how it “will move forward." Silver disclosed that urge the NBA board of governors to force a sale of the Clippers, needing at least 23 of the 30 members to vote for such a move. [source: LATimes]

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