NBA Commissioner Adam Silver dispatched some swift justice yesterday on the bigoted owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling. The 80-year-old billionaire was banned for life and fined $2.5 million for making strongly racist remarks that were recorded on tape. Commissioner Silver has also vowed to try and force Sterling to sell the Clippers in a bid to sever any and all connection between him and the NBA.
Sponsors had rapidly abandoned the Clippers, with covers like the one above going up on sponsor logos during a playoff game against the Golden State Warriors earlier this week, due to the strong and vocal public condemnation of Sterling and his views. With the punishments in place, though, the door has been opened for Kia, the southern California dealer group for Mercedes-Benz and used-car retailer CarMax (among other, less auto-related organizations like State Farm, Red Bull and Sprint) to renew their sponsorship with the team.
"We stand with the Commissioner, the league, the players and the fans condemning Mr. Sterling's views. 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 [Clippers star] Blake Griffin," Kia said in a statement obtained by Automotive News.
Mercedes-Benz was simpler and more ambiguous in its statement, saying, "We applaud the decisive action taken by the NBA and we're evaluating how we will move forward."
CarMax, meanwhile, was also vague on whether it'd return. "We welcome the opportunity to discuss future sponsorship if this matter is fully resolved," the retailer said in a statement.