Adidas, Samsung Restore Clippers Deals After Sterling’s BanMason Levinson and Eben Novy-Williams
Adidas AG and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd said they would reinstate their sponsorships with the Los Angeles Clippers after National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver banned team owner Donald Sterling for life for making racist remarks.
A day after about a dozen companies suspended or ended their sponsorships with the Clippers, Silver said at a news conference yesterday that he would urge the league’s owners to force Sterling to sell his franchise.
Adidas, the NBA’s official uniform supplier, a day earlier had suspended its sponsorship with the team. It said yesterday that it fully supported Silver’s decision, which came hours before the Clippers defeated the Warriors 113-103 to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series. Adidas is the second-largest sporting goods maker behind Nike Inc.
“While our sponsorship is reinstated, tonight our traditional ads and logo placements will be replaced with the Clippers logo and ‘We Are One’ to support the team and fans in the healing process,” Lauren Lamkin, a spokeswoman for Herzogenaurach, Germany-based Adidas, said in an e-mail yesterday.
South Korea-based Samsung, which had also announced it was suspending its advertising with the Clippers, said in a statement that it was proud to be a “close partner” of the NBA.
The Clippers’ website yesterday showed only a small team logo and the words “We Are One” in white on a black screen.
Virgin America Inc., which two days ago was one of four companies that ended its sponsorship of the team, has not changed its plans, Jennifer Thomas, a spokeswoman for the airline, said in an e-mail.
Chumash Casino Resort, another company that ended its sponsorship, plans “to closely monitor the Clippers’ ownership situation,” Vincent Armenta, tribal chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, said in an e-mailed statement.
CarMax Inc. and Mercedes-Benz also said two days ago that they would end their relationship with the Clippers.
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance, Kia Motors Corp., Yokohama Tire Corp., Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc., Sprint Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., and sports drink company AquaHydrate Inc. said they would suspend their sponsorship deals.
Kia Motors, Lumber Liquidators and Sprint released statements yesterday saying they are reviewing their relationship with the team.
“We’ll continue to monitor and reactivate at the appropriate time,” said Scott McKee, a spokesman for Kia Motors Corp.’s U.S. unit.
Sterling was recorded after a woman who accompanied him to Clippers games posted a photo to Instagram of herself and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson at a game. Sterling told her he didn’t mind her friendships with black people, just that he didn’t want them public.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” he told the woman, who was identified by TMZ as V. Stiviano.
“Why publicize it on the Instagram and why bring it to my game?” asked Sterling, 80.
Silver said that Sterling acknowledged his voice was on the audio, and that he would urge the NBA board of governors to force a sale of the team. Silver said he expects to get the required support of 75 percent of the 30 owners needed to force a sale.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver said. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.”
Clippers sponsorship deals “could be as high as $30 million to $50 million in that market,” William Sutton, the founding director of the University of South Florida’s sport and entertainment masters of business administration program, said two days ago in a telephone interview.