Yesterday, a number of high-profile sponsors cut ties with the NBA’s L.A. Clippers pending a decision from the league on how to handle the pretty awful things team owner Donald Sterling is accused of saying. Now that it’s issued a lifetime ban against Sterling’s involvement in the league, the NBA is asking those advertisers to return to the fold.
“Those marketing partners of the Clippers and partners of the entire NBA should judge us on our response to this incident,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver following his announcement of Sterling’s ban and the $2.5 million fine for the racist comments recorded by his girlfriend and leaked last Friday to TMZ. “I would hope that they would return to their business relationship with the Clippers.”
More than 15 sponsors — including State Farm, Red Bull, Virgin America, CarMax, Kia, and Samsung — pulled their support from the team in the wake of the Sterling scandal.
Some sponsors have already announced their return to sponsoring the team, which is in the middle of a playoff battle against cross-state rivals the Golden State Warriors.
Kia tells the Chicago Tribune that “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.”
And State Farm told the Trib it is “continuing the pause of our sponsorship of the Clippers organization as we evaluate this ongoing situation.”
Sterling is still technically the owner of the Clippers, but the plan appears to be that the league’s Board of Governors will compel him to sell his stake in the team, which require the consent of 75% of the other NBA team owners.