The Chumash Casino Resort terminated its sponsorship agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers following the release of a voice recording containing racist remarks allegedly made by the professional basketball team’s owner, L.A. real estate mogul Donald Sterling.
The Santa Ynez Valley casino was a presenting sponsor of the team for four years. Two of the team’s other sponsors, CarMax and Virgin America, also jumped ship ahead of the National Basketball Association’s decision on April 29 to ban Sterling from the game for life and to fine him $2.5 million.
“We absolutely agree and support NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision today,” Vincent Armenta, tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said in a statement on Tuesday. “It sends a strong message that the views expressed by Donald Sterling will not be tolerated. We plan to continue to closely monitor the Clippers’ ownership situation. We would also like to extend our support to the team members and the entire Clippers’ family during this time.”
On Monday, the tribe said that the racist remarks had forced it reconsider its sponsorship of the team. “We remain supportive of the members of the team and we wish them the very best going forward,” Armenta said in the earlier statement.Kia Motors America, Red Bull, Lumber Liquidators and Sprint also suspended their advertising agreements.
The male voice heard in the recording, released on blogs TMZ and Deadspin, scolds Sterling’s then-girlfriend V. Stiviano for posting online a photo of herself with Lakers legend Magic Johnson, which he said embarrassingly publicized her fraternization with minority groups, and asked her not to bring African Americans to Clippers games. Stiviano’s lawyers released a statement saying the recording is “legitimate.”
“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,” Armenta said. “As a result, we’re withdrawing our sponsorship of the Clippers organization.”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated at 2:45 p.m. on April 29 to reflect the NBA’s decision to ban and fine Sterling and to include the latest response from the Chumash tribe.]