Sterling's Intransigence Heightens Pressure on Clippers' Sponsors

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner barred for life on Tuesday from the National Basketball Association, apparently has no plans to apologize for alleged racist remarks captured on an audio recorder, or sell the team.

Sterling's intransigence comes after up to 12 team sponsors said earlier this week that they were suspending or terminating sponsorships with the Clippers following the leaked of the recording by the website TMZ, a unit of Time Warner (TWX).

The first sponsor to cut tied with Sterlings' Clippers was national auto dealership CarMax (KMX). CarMax said the comments attributed to Sterling are in "direct conflict" with its culture of respect for all individuals.


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State Farm Mutual, the privately-held insurance company, also reprimanded Sterling for being "offensive" and said that it would take a pause in its relationship with the Clippers. Sprint  (S), Red Bull, Virgin America and Kia are among other notable sponsors to pull partnerships with the Clippers.

Still, the sponsors that have distanced themselves from the Clippers will represent individual Clipper players.

State Farm said its relationship with Chris Paul, the teams All-Pro starting point guard, was still "great." The company plans to continue its TV advertising campaign that features Paul.

Meanwhile, Red Bull said it will continue its relationship with another Clippers' star, forward Blake Griffin.

The flood of corporate announcements comes days after reports from TMZ and Web site Deadspin, alleging Sterling made derogatory statements about African-Americans in a phone conversation with his then mistress V. Stiviano. Sterling was allegedly upset that Stiviano was posting picture on her Instagram showing her posing with NBA veteran Magic Johnson and baseball player Matt Kemp.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is set to announce possible action by the league office on Tuesday against Sterling for his comments. Speculation is that a suspension of indefinite length and a large fine are possible options. Silver is allowed to issue a fine of up to $1 million without approval from the rest of the league's owners.

At the time of publication, the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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