Mandalay Bay Suspends Promotional Relationship with Los Angeles Clippers

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Donald Sterling Is Banned from NBA Games for Life

The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip ended its longstanding business relationship with the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday. Mandalay Bay ended their sponsorship deal with the NBA franchise over the racist comments by the Clippers’ owner, Donald Sterling.

At present, 16 different companies have ended or suspended their business ties over Sterling’s comments, which were exposed by TMZ this last Saturday. The racist remarks, which were recorded last September amidst 100 hours of recorded commentary, unleashed a firestorm of controversy.

Mandalay Bay’s Corporate Deal with Clippers

Mandalay Bay had signage at the Clippers’ NBA home, the Staples Center. The resort also advertised on the Clippers’ local broadcasts, but all such ads will be removed from broadcasts. Even after it was announced by the new NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, that Sterling would have a lifetime banishment, the Clippers decided their wanted to several their relationship as a sponsor.

Among the casualties of the business decision is a Clippers preseason game with the Denver Nuggets on October 18 this year. The game was supposed to take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. While the game is likely to occur in the Staples Center, it will not take place in Las Vegas. The Clippers have played preseason games at the Mandalay Bay in the previous two seasons.

Chuck Bowling Releases Statement

Chuck Bowling, CEO of Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, released a statement about his establishment’s decision. The statement read, “Mandalay Bay finds the comments attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling to be shocking and appalling. We have suspended our advertising and sponsorship relationship with the Clippers’ organization.

It is important to note that many of the team’s sponsors suspended their business connections to the Los Angeles based basketball team. Bowling’s statement went on to say, “…as we evaluate our continued association with the team.” This would imply Mandalay Bay might continue sponsoring the team, if the proper steps are taken to assure Donald Sterling is no longer associated with the team.

There is speculation that Adam Silver will force Donald Sterling to sell the team. To force a sell, 75% of the league’s 30 teams would have to vote to force the sell. Without the Clippers involved, this would be 22 of the 29 remaining teams. With the Clippers involved, this would involve 23 of 30 league members. Speculation is Silver might be able to get a unanimous affirmation for that plan.

What Is a Suspended Relationship?

In most situations, a suspended deal means the sponsor would like to continue working with a franchise, though it is impolitic to do so at the moment. Chuck Bowling added, “We continue to wish the players, coaches, and fans all the best in the playoffs.” The suspension of arrangements allow the sponsor to resume the business relationship when the problem is fixed or when public rancor quiets down.

Bowling’s mention of the playoffs references a minor, yet significant, reason for the NBA’s current outrage. The Clippers are currently locked in a tough 1st round series with the Golden State Warriors. Several commentators have mentioned that Donald Sterling’s remarks have overshadowed perhaps the best 1st round in playoff history. In many cases, the first round of the NBA playoffs pit mismatched teams against one another, but this year, several of the top-seeded teams (Spurs, Pacers, Clippers, Thunder) have lost early home games in their series.

Donald Sterling’s Comments

In September 2013, Donald Sterling began having his alleged mistress record his conversations. That woman, Vanessa Stiviano, claims to be Sterling’s friend and archivist. The 80 year old billionaire claims to have forgotten certain discussions, and thus wanted his life recorded.

The audio released by TMZ last just over 9 minutes. In the audio, Sterling took offense at photos Stiviano posted to her Instagram page. These pictures contained images of Stiviano posing with African American males, including former NBA star Magic Johnson and L.A. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.

In the audio, Sterling claimed he did not mind if Stiviano brought African Americans to her house or even dated these men, but he took exception to her flaunting it by posting pics of these interactions on Instagram or bringing them courtside to “his games”. Stiviano defended herself, claiming she did not know these men, but was simply having her picture taken with them as a sports fan. When TMZ released the audio, V. Stiviano claimed she did not release the tapes.