LOS ANGELES – Sponsors are pulling a fast break away from the Los Angeles Clippers and their embattled owner, Donald Sterling.
As the condemnation of Sterling and his racially insensitive comments spread Monday, major financial supporters of the NBA franchise announced they were severing ties with the Clippers.
In rapid succession, the mass exodus included used car seller CarMax, State Farm Insurance, Kia Motors America and airline Virgin America. And according to ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell, Red Bull also is suspending its marketing activities with the Clippers.
"CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers owner completely unacceptable," a company statement said. "These views conflict with CarMax's culture of respect for all individuals. While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for nine years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship."
State Farm also pulled its Clippers' sponsorship, although the company said it will continue its popular ad series featuring Clippers point guard Chris Paul and his fictitious nerdy brother, Cliff Paul.
"The remarks attributed to the Clippers owner are offensive," State Farm said in a statement. "While those involved sort out the facts, we will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization. We are monitoring the situation and we'll continually assess our options. We have a great relationship with Chris Paul and will continue the Born to Assist advertising campaign involving Chris and now other NBA players."
Kia Motors America, which has worked with Clippers All-Star forward Blake Griffin on a series of ads, released this statement: "The comments allegedly made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling are offensive and reprehensible, and they are inconsistent with our views and values. We are suspending our advertising and sponsorship activities with the Clippers. Meanwhile, as fans of the game of basketball, our support of the players and the sport is unwavering."
A Virgin America spokesperson said, "While we continue to support the fans and the players, Virgin America has made the decision to end its sponsorship of the L.A. Clippers."