SANTA YNEZ, Calif. - The tribal-owned Chumash Casino announced Monday it was ending sponsorship of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team in the wake of racist comments attributed to team owner Donald Sterling.
Sterling is alleged to have made the comments in a recorded conversation with a woman. Portions of that conversation were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin, leading to a national outcry.
Chumash Tribal Chairman Vincent Armenta released the following statement:
"We've always been proud supporters of the Los Angeles Clippers, however, the recent statements attributed to the Clippers' owner have forced us to reconsider our relationship. We remain supportive of the members of the team and we wish them the very best going forward. 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. As a result, we're withdrawing our sponsorship of the Clippers organization."
Other businesses are also ending sponsorships with the Clippers including used car dealership chain CarMax.
"CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers' owner completely unacceptable," CarMax Inc. said Monday in an emailed statement. "While we have been a proud Clippers sponsor for 9 years and support the team, fans and community, these statements necessitate that CarMax end its sponsorship."
Meanwhile, the NBA has called a news conference for Tuesday about its investigation into the matter.
The players' union has asked Commissioner Adam Silver to rule quickly, preferably before the Clippers play host to Golden State in a critical Game 5 of their knotted-up Western Conference first-round series on Tuesday night. Silver has said the league would move quickly on the matter.
LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers says he declined a chance to speak with owner Donald Sterling.
"I don't think right now is the time or the place, for me, at least. I just took a pass," Rivers said.
In a conference call Monday, the coach said he believed that Sterling made the comments.
Rivers canceled practice Monday, a day after a 118-97 loss to the Golden State Warriors that evened their playoff series at 2-2.
He called it a "non-basketball decision" that would allow his players to catch their breath.
Still, he says most of the players were at the team facility and he planned to talk to them to "make sure they were in the right place."