*Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers says he declined a chance to speak with owner Donald Sterling, who is alleged to have made racist comments in a recorded conversation.
“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, according to the AP.
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.”
Meanwhile, more advertisers are backing away from the Clippers in response to the racist comments attributed to Sterling.
Joining CarMax is airline Virgin America and the Chumash Casino Resort, all stating Monday that they are ending their sponsorships with the team.
Two other sponsors, Kia Motors America and Red Bull, said they are suspending their advertising and sponsorship activities with the team. Another sponsor, insurer State Farm, said it “will be taking a pause in our relationship with the organization.”
Sterling has come under fire for comments he is alleged to have made 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. The NBA is planning a news conference Tuesday on its investigation into Sterling.
“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 insurance-selling twin, Cliff Paul. State Farm said that campaign is part of its overall sponsorship of the NBA.
Kia’s suspension of sponsorship and ads with the Clippers does not affect its deal with Clippers star Blake Griffin, who appears in commercials for the car company.