Kia Motors America, Mercedes-Benz dealers and CarMax are among corporate sponsors abandoning the suddenly toxic Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association following racist remarks allegedly made by the team’s billionaire owner Donald Sterling.
[ads id=”0″ style=”float:left;padding:9px;”]CarMax, the chain of used-car superstores, was the first Clippers sponsor to jump ship on Monday. The company told ESPN it finds the alleged statements about black players and celebrities attributed to Sterling to be “completely unacceptable.” The company had been one of the club’s longest-serving and most loyal corporate partners, sponsoring the Clippers for nine seasons.
Another big blow to the Clippers came on Monday when Kia Motors America announced it was suspending its sponsorship of the club over the “offensive and reprehensible” comments allegedly made by Sterling.
Kia serves as the official automotive partner of the NBA. It also sponsors TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” “As fans of the game of basketball, our support of the players and the sport is unwavering,” Kia spokesman Scott McKee said in a statement.
In an audiotape, a man said to be Sterling tells a woman not to associate with black people. The remarks linked to Sterling were first reported over the weekend by TMZ.
Another sponsor that is fleeing is Mercedes-Benz. The luxury automaker’s Southern California dealers have a deal with the team that’s advertised on the Clippers Web site. Mercedes officials could not be reached for comment Monday.
“Mercedes-Benz is obviously concerned about the alleged comments attributed to the Clippers’ owner. We find these comments to be deplorable and completely against the values we promote as an organization,” Mercedes-Benz said in a statement. “Our dealer group shares our concern and has moved to cease its sponsorship of the Clippers effective immediately, despite their affinity for the Clippers and their fans.”