LOS ANGELES – The NAACP has decided not to honor Donald Sterling with a lifetime achievement award from its Los Angeles chapter after the Clippers owner allegedly made racially charged comments in a recorded conversation.
Donations made by Sterling, who has owned the team since 1981, will be returned, Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles NAACP, said at a news conference Monday. Jenkins wouldn’t say how much money was involved.
“There is a personal, economic, and social price that Mr. Sterling must pay for his attempt to turn back the clock on race relations,” he said.
Sterling, 80, had been slated to receive the honor on May 15 as part of the 100th anniversary celebration of the Los Angeles branch of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
Sterling’s purported comments urging a woman to not bring black people to his team’s games have overshadowed the NBA’s opening playoff round and prompted an NBA investigation. The NBA is planning a Tuesday news conference to discuss the probe.
There still has been no official confirmation that Sterling is on the recording, portions of which were released over the weekend by TMZ and Deadspin.
Also Monday, some advertisers said they are backing away from the Clippers.
Used car dealership chain CarMax and airline Virgin America said Monday they are ending their sponsorships of the Clippers in the wake of the comments.
A third sponsor, Kia Motors America, said it is suspending its advertising and sponsorship activities with the team. A fourth, insurer State Farm, said it “will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization.”
“CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers’ owner completely unacceptable,” Richmond, Va.-based 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.”
Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm also described the remarks as offensive and said it will monitor the situation as the facts are sorted out.
It will continue to run its Born to Assist ad campaign, which began in December 2012 and features Clippers point guard Chris Paul as himself and a fictional, mustachioed insurance-selling twin, Cliff Paul. State Farm said that campaign is part of its overall sponsorship of the NBA.
Kia also said that suspending its sponsorship and ads with the Clippers does not affect its deal with Clippers star Blake Griffin, who appears in commercials for the car company.
Jay reported from New York. Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed to this report.