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Sponsors suspend relationships with Clippers

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CarMax, Virgin America and Kia joined State Farm Insurance in ending sponsorship deals with the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday stemming from racist comments allegedly made by owner Donald Sterling.

“CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable,” the company said in a statement. “These views directly 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.”

Virgin America said in a statement that it was parting with the Clippers “while we continue to support the fans and the players.”

State Farm and Kia suspended their sponsorship while details of the inflammatory remarks are further investigated.

“State Farm strongly supports and respects diversity and inclusion in its workforce and customers,” the company’s statement read. “The remarks attributed to the Clippers’ owner are offensive. 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 asses our options. We have a great relationship with Chris Paul and will continue supporting the Born to Assist advertising campaign involving Chris and now other NBA players.”

Paul, the All-Star point guard of the franchise, and the Clippers responded to the racist rant by wearing their warmups inside-out before Game 4 of the first-round playoff series.

Stars past and present, including Kevin Johnson, called for the “most severe sanction possible” from the NBA and newly appointed commissioner Adam Silver.

The NBA said Monday it will hold a press conference on Tuesday to make an announcement about its investigation that Silver said was launched over the weekend.

Sterling was allegedly secretly recorded by his girlfriend making racist comments in a long-winded conversation made available by multiple outlets over the weekend.

Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who played for Sterling and the Clippers, said the comments would make him reconsider coaching the team next season were he in Doc Rivers’ shoes. Rivers is in his first season as Clippers coach.

Jackson told the Dan Patrick Show on Monday that he would support fans boycotting Tuesday’s game at Staples Center in Los Angeles to protest Sterling’s comments.

Yahoo Sports reported Monday that Magic Johnson is interested in buying the Clippers, but it is not known if Sterling is interested in selling the team.

Johnson was particularly critical of Sterling, saying Sunday he should not be allowed to own the team. Only the NBA’s owners can force him to sell.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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