The racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling are hurting his relationship with the Native American community. Vincent Armenta, tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians said in a statement on Monday that its casino, the Chumash Casino Resort, is cutting sponsorship ties with the Clippers.
“We’ve always been proud supporters of the Los Angeles Clippers, however, the recent statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner have forced us to reconsider our relationship. We remain supportive of the members of the team and we wish them the very best going forward. As a group that has long been marginalized itself, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and the Chumash Casino Resort are especially sensitive to maintaining the dignity of all people. We cannot ignore any statement that causes harm or hurts any group. As a result, we’re withdrawing our sponsorship of the Clippers organization.”
The casino has been a presenting sponsor of the LA Clippers for the last four seasons.
TMZ broke the news on Friday by releasing a recorded conversation that Sterling had with his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, who is black and Mexican. In them, Sterling is heard saying, “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” He also told her, “Don’t bring [Magic Johnson] to my games.”
The National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest organization representing Native and Indigenous people in the country said there is “no place in modern society for that kind of hatred and discrimination.
“NCAI condemns Donald Sterling’s appalling comments regarding African Americans,” the organization said in a statement. “There is no place in modern society for that kind of hatred and discrimination. We also want to applaud the many athletes, sportscasters, corporations, and individuals who have spoken out against Sterling and his comments. It is encouraging to see so many people standing together and declaring that this behavior is unacceptable.
“NCAI is no stranger to facing down racism and ignorance in American sports. Every incident of hate and racism – whether a singular incident or the repeated, high-profile use of offensive words and images – is unacceptable and has no place in the 21st Century.
“We will continue to support the LA Clippers players and fans as they face the fallout from Sterling’s words and we will continue to fight for a world in which no race or ethnic group is treated in this way,” NCAI said.
KEYT.com, a TV station near the Los Angeles area, also reported that other businesses have pulled their sponsorship with the Clippers, including the used car dealership chain CarMax.
“CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable,” CarMax Inc. said Monday in an emailed statement. “While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for 9 years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship.”
Virgin America, State Farm, Red Bull, Lumber Liquidators, Sprint and Kia Motors America are also suspending their sponsorships and advertising obligations with the team while remaining supportive of its players.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver promised a quick investigation into Sterling’s racist remarks on Monday and will address the situation in a press conference on Tuesday in New York City.
Magic Johnson has heard Sterling’s alleged comments and told ESPN that he was hurt by what he said. “It’s a shame that Donald Sterling feels that way about African-Americans,” he told TMZ. “He has a team full of amazing African-American basketball players that are working to bring a championship to Clippers fans. The Clippers also have a strong minority fan base.”