TIME marketing

Sponsors Still Wary of Clippers Following Sterling Ban

Some Los Angeles Clippers sponsors are working to put even more distance between themselves and the team a week after team owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from the NBA for racist comments about black people.

Corona, which said last week that it would suspend its Clippers sponsorship until the NBA completed its investigation, now says it won’t associate with the team until Sterling gives up ownership.

“His alleged comments were offensive and appalling, and completely counter to the type of brand Corona aspires to be,” a Corona spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “Our sponsorship of the team will be terminated.”

Red Bull resumed its sponsorship of the Clippers on May 2, but with new conditions. Fifty percent of the money the Clippers get from Red Bull for the rest of the postseason must be donated to the same anti-discrimination charities that the NBA plans to give Sterling’s $2.5 million fine. Other funding must be used exclusively for basketball operations. Yokohama Tires is coming back with similar strings attached, according to Ad Age.

Sprint, State Farm and Aquahydrate all confirmed that their sponsorships are still suspended but not fully terminated. Automaker Mercedes-Benz, used car retailer CarMax, airline Virgin America and the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California all completely ended their Clippers sponsorships last week. LoanMart, another business that suspended its sponsorship, did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.

Sterling, whose racist remarks were secretly recorded and then published online, was banned for life from the NBA last week by league commissioner Adam Silver. The NBA can force Sterling to sell the Clippers if three-fourths of the league’s owners vote in favor of the measure. At least one owner expects the upcoming vote to be “unanimous.”

TIME Basketball

Clippers President Steps Down Amid Sterling Uproar

Los Angeles Clippers Introduce Chris Paul
Andy Roeser at a press conference introducing Chris Paul as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers on December 15, 2011 at the Los Angeles Clippers Training Center in Playa Vista, California. Stephen Dunn—Getty Images

Starting immediately, Andy Roeser has been placed on indefinite leave from the the Los Angeles franchise, to "provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate," an NBA executive said

The National Basketball Association announced Tuesday that Los Angeles Clippers President Andy Roeser will take an indefinite leave of absence starting immediately.

“This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean slate and for the team to stabilize under difficult circumstances,” NBA Executive Vice President of Communications Mike Bass said in a statement.

The announcement comes one week after NBA commissioner Adam Silver gave Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban after it was determined he made racist statements on a leaked audio recording. Roeser was reportedly going to take on the day-to-day operations of the franchise in Sterling’s absence. The team has not said who will sit in the front office during the rest of the Clippers’ playoff run this year.

Sterling made no comment after the audio recordings were initially released. Roeser came the closest of any official representative of the Clippers to delivering the owner’s apology for him the day the tapes leaked to TMZ:

Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them. He is also upset and apologizes for sentiments attributed to him about Earvin Johnson. He has long considered Magic a friend and has only the utmost respect and admiration for him — both in terms of who he is and what he has achieved. We are investigating this matter.”

The Clippers advanced to the second round of the playoffs Saturday after topping the Golden State Warriors 126-121 in a game seven matchup.

TIME Basketball

Golden State Warriors Fire Coach Mark Jackson

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Five
Head coach Mark Jackson of the Golden State Warriors shots instructions in the game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 29, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Stephen Dunn—Getty Images

The Oakland franchise fired its coach after a game seven loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the NBA playoffs

Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson has been relieved of his duties, the team said Tuesday. Jackson’s firing comes after the Warriors were eliminated from the first round of the NBA playoffs Saturday by the Los Angeles Clippers in game seven of the series.

“It’s never easy to make a decision of this nature,” Warriors General Manager Bob Myers said in a statement, according to ESPN. “Mark has accomplished many good things during his three years with the organization, including his role in helping elevate this team into a better position than it was when he arrived nearly 36 months ago. We’re appreciative of his dedication and commitment since his arrival and are extremely grateful for his contributions. However, as an organization, we simply feel it’s best to move in a different direction at this time.”

Some of Jackson’s players will be upset by his firing. Amidst speculation that Jackson would be asked to leave the Warriors after Saturday’s loss, team all-star Stephen Curry lent his support to Jackson. “I love coach more than anybody, and I think for him to be in a situation where his job is under scrutiny and under question is totally unfair,” Curry told the San Jose Mercury News. “And it would definitely be a shock to me if anything like [his firing] were to happen. I’m going to voice my support for coach.”

Jackson’s position has been shaky throughout the year. Two assistant coaches were let go or reassigned under his regime earlier in the season.

Nonetheless, the Warriors ended their season 51-31, an improvement over last year’s record of 47-35. Jackson’s contract was set to end in 2017.

[ESPN]

TIME NBA

Kevin Durant Wins First NBA MVP Award

Kevin Durant
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant shoots a foul shot during Game 2 against the Memphis Grizzlies in Oklahoma City, Monday, April 21, 2014. Sue Ogrocki—AP

The Oklahoma City Thunder forward scored at least 25 points in 41 consecutive games this season, the third-longest streak in NBA history. Four-time MVP winner LeBron James said Durant "deserves it"

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant won his first MVP trophy Tuesday.

The 6’9″ superstar had a run of 41 consecutive games in which he scored at least 25 points this season. That’s the third-longest streak in NBA history. Durant, who led the Thunder to the second-best record in the league, topped past MVP winner LeBron James, with 119 first-place votes.

“Much respect to him and he deserves it,” James told the Associated Press. “He had a big-time MVP season.”

The Thunder are currently facing the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

TIME

For Acrobats, the Show Must Go On

Cirque du Soleil performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York in 2011.
Cirque du Soleil performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York in 2011. Cindy Ord—WireImage/Getty Images

There is always a certain aspect of risk — it’s what makes it so appealing to the audience, that “what-if” feeling.

I’ve been an acrobat since 2010 when I joined Cirque de Soleil. I performed in China for one year for Franco Dragone’s House of Dancing Water, and I’ve been in Buenos Aires for about two months now, preparing for Signum, a show by two former Cirque du Soleil artistic directors and acrobats based in Argentina.

It’s a fun world we’re in. We all love performing and we love what we’re doing. For performers like us, in Cirque and other circus companies around the world, safety is the number one thing we take into consideration. You have to learn the show and learn the acts you’re performing, which takes months, and safety is implemented every single day. There are always mats, belts, rigs — and it’s done for our benefit to make us feel comfortable. If you’re not ready, you don’t perform.

Equipment malfunction is almost never a concern for the acrobat before we go out to perform because we know that the equipment is tested and checked before and during every show, multiple times. Our job is not to worry about “if” we will be safe, but to focus on our performance and skill on stage. As artists, we trust and know that our riggers and technicians always check the safety.

Accidents like Sunday’s are rare in the circus world. But even though they don’t happen a lot, there is always a certain aspect of risk — it’s what makes it so appealing to the audience, that “oh-my-gosh” feeling and “what-if” feeling.

But as with every sport, anything can happen. I give my heart, health, and healing to all of the performers involved in Sunday’s show at Ringling Brothers. What happened was a terrible thing, I’m very sad for the people that had to go through this — from the performers to the audience. I’m sure its going to take the girls involved in the chandelier incident a while to get back into it and to trust that what they’re doing is safe every time.

For the company, I’m sure they’re all gathering to talk about what happened, discussing the new safety precautions they would be taking to prevent it from happening again. Because it is show business, and the show must go on. And outside of the Ringling Brothers, other organizations are talking, too. All of Cirque du Soleil, all of any other company, is going to learn from this show. They’re going to see this incident and they’re going to implement new safety precautions for their show. They’re going to start valuing more the importance of safety. That part of it is actually a good thing.

Despite this accident, as performers we’re not scared to do what we do. In my last show I did a chandelier number that started 28 meters above the water. I’ve done many acts where I’m in a harness flying 18 meters above the stage, and bungee acts where I reach equally high heights. We do have fear and can feel scared when we are performing certain acrobatic moves or skills on stage, but we rest assured knowing that the technicians and riggers have gone through as much or even more training than the acrobats have. During every act, it’s always safety first. As performers we feel confident, we feel comfortable. If we didn’t we wouldn’t continue. And we do it all to make the audience smile, laugh, and applaud. That’s the biggest thrill of our lives.

Corey Hartung is an acrobat who has performed with Cirque du Soleil since 2010. She is currently living in Buenos Aires preparing for a new production called Signum.

TIME Racism

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: How to Tell if You’re a Racist Like Donald Sterling

Here's a hint: If you've ever said, “I don’t care if you’re white, black, yellow or purple," you might be a racist

Polls show that more whites believe in ghosts than believe racism is a problem in America. I guess that’s why Ghost Hunters is so popular but my show, Racist Wranglers, never got picked up. Maybe the reason is how we define racism.

Donald Sterling is not a racist.

In his own mind.

Paula Deen, Cliven Bundy, Don Imus. Not racists.

To their family, closest friends and adoring pets, they’re just plain-speaking Americans who have probably said the phrase, “I don’t care if you’re white, black, yellow or purple.” (FYI: You might be a racist if you’ve used that phrase.)

That’s why their faces have that shocked “Who me?” expression at the public outrage over their statements.

All of them could probably name several people of color among their friends, close acquaintances and business associates. All could probably cite minority folk they’ve personally helped through their generosity. Sterling was about to receive a second NAACP award (since canceled) for his work with minority children. He had a mixed-race girlfriend. What more proof can the public want of his “I don’t see color” purity!

What’s that? You say you need further proof that he can’t be a racist?

Commentator Bill O’Reilly informed us that discrimination is “all in the past.” Fox News’ Eric Bolling seconded that by saying, “Is there racism? I don’t believe there’s racism.” A Republican National Committee tweet on the 58th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ arrest confirmed the body of racism had been buried: “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.” Bam! Done! Mic drop!

Still not convinced?

How about the U.S. Supreme Court, you skeptical naysayers. The Justices (all wearing black gospel robes in support of racial equality) confirm Sterling and Pals’ assertion that they are not racists by proclaiming, “Racism is dead!” Well, if not dead, at least suffering from debilitating acid reflux. Several of their recent decisions, invalidating key parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and striking down affirmative action, were based on the court’s assessment that “We’ve come a long way, baby” since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. I’m surprised they didn’t close their decision with a wink and a “Can you dig it?”

Well, go tell it on the mountain, Justices, because down here in the flatlands of daily living, racism isn’t just alive, but it’s cloning faster than Sean Hannity can backpedal his support of Cliven Bundy.

Racism today isn’t like the racism pre–Martin Luther King Jr. Today we are faced with “situational racism.” This is similar to situational ethics, a philosophical and theological movement that argues that rather than having fixed, one-size-fits-all ethical rules of behavior, the context of each situation must be considered before determining the correct moral choice. Situational racism applies this flexible principle by declaring we must act according to a realistic analysis of race as it is in our society right now, not as we wish it were.

The clichéd example: You’re walking down a dark, deserted street and a bunch of black teens adorned with dagger tattoos and carrying bongs made from human skulls are walking toward you. If you cross the street, are you being a racist or a realist?

That’s what Sterling meant when he said on the tape, “It’s the world! … We don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture … I don’t want to change the culture because I can’t. It’s too big …” He didn’t see his attitude as racist, just a practical reaction to a racist world.

Basically, he’s saying, “It’s not me. It’s Society! It’s the Man! I’m just a helpless pawn, a clump of toilet paper caught in the swirling toilet bowl of history.” The housing discrimination he was convicted of wasn’t racism, it was just practical business sense. After all, he’s in business to make money, not history.

Maybe the worst racism of all is denying that racism exists, because that keeps us from repairing the damage. This country needs a social colonoscopy to look for the hidden racist polyps. And we aren’t doing ourselves any good by saying, “I feel fine. Everything’s fine. Nothing to see here.”

The truth is, everyone has racism in his or her heart. We feel more comfortable around people of similar appearance, backgrounds and experiences. But, as intelligent, educated and civilized humans, we fight our knee-jerk reactions because we recognize that those reactions are often wrong and ultimately harmful.

One symptom of the malady is the many apologists using the election of President Obama as proof that racism doesn’t exist in the U.S. Yes, his position truly is a sign of the distance we’ve all covered in the last few decades. But, as recent events have proved, this race is a marathon and President Obama is merely a milestone, not the finish line.

The finish line is when racism no longer exists, not when people claim it doesn’t exist because they personally don’t notice it. Why is it that the people who are declaring racism dead are mostly white? Because if you’re not a targeted group, you don’t notice it. A 2006 CNN poll showed 49% of blacks saying racism is a “very serious” problem, while only 18% of whites agreed. A 2012 Associated Press poll showed that 51% of Americans expressed anti-black attitudes, up from 48% in a 2008 survey. Also, 52% displayed anti-Hispanic biases.

Every time the media call attention to racism, it raises the awareness of those who otherwise might not have noticed it around them. It’s a variation of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, in which someone learns a new bit of information and suddenly sees the information being used in multiple places in a short period of time. The reason for this is that the brain is constantly inundated with so much information that it rejects what it considers uninteresting (“uninteresting” being things that don’t affect you personally). This process is known as “selective attention.”

That’s why the best way to combat racism in the face of selective attention and situational racism is to seek it out every minute of every day and expose every instance we find. And not just racism, but also sexism, homophobia and every other kind of injustice that lessens the principles of inclusion that define this country.

We can’t let others control the perception or the message. We’ve got to go tell it on the mountain ourselves.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time National Basketball Association champion and league Most Valuable Player. Follow him on Twitter (@KAJ33) and Facebook (facebook.com/KAJ). Mr. Abdul-Jabbar also writes a weekly column for the L.A. Register.

TIME

The Craziest Hats of the Kentucky Derby

Forget the horses. The large, colorful and often sculptural headwear of the Kentucky Derby's attendees are where the real action's at

TIME Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby Favorites Saddle Up

APTOPIX Kentucky Derby Horse Racing
A horse goes for a workout at Churchill Downs prior to the race, May 3, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. Matt Slocum—AP

California Chrome is the runaway favorite to win the 140th Kentucky Derby Saturday, but Wicked Strong and Danza are hot on his heels

The biggest day of the year for horse-racing fans has arrived.

Nineteen horses will gallop out of the stalls for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday evening, with a tough field of jockeys looking to join a list of champions in the first leg of the Triple Crown. The 1.25-mile race at Kentucky’s Churchill Downs features a tight field, but the much-admired California Chrome is the clear betting favorite to win the race after number-two favorite horse Hoppertunity was forced to withdraw due to an issue in his front hoof.

Here’s a list of the top competitors at the 140th Kentucky Derby:

California Chrome may be the first California-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby in 52 years. The three-year-old chestnut colt has six wins and a second in 10 starts and has a huge hoof up in the betting odds, but was bred from comparatively humble origins. His trainer, Art Sherman, is trying to become the oldest to win the derby at age 77. Victor Espinoza, who as a jockey has already won the Derby before, will ride California Chrome Saturday.

Wicked Strong, the competition’s early second favorite, was named to honor Boston’s spirit after last year’s marathon bombings. The horse has strong odds, but he was placed on the outside gate, to the disappointment of trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Wicked Strong won the Wood Memorial in New York with a hard kick of the kind often seen at the Kentucky Derby. He’ll be ridden by jockey Rajiv Maragh.

Danza,another favorite of the race who emerged with second-place odds in Saturday betting,is named after Taxi star Tony Danza. The horse has powerful acceleration and won a big victory at the Arkansas Derby closing the last quarter of a mile in just 12 2/5 seconds. Joe Bravo will be Danza’s jockey.

Other top horses include Intense Holiday, ridden by John Velazquez, Samraat, ridden by Jose Ortiz, and Wildcat Red, whose jockey is Luis Saez.

Expect a winning time in the low 2-minute range as competitors push to beat the record 1:59 2/5 seconds winning time The winner will bring home $2 million.

TIME NBA

V. Stiviano Says Donald Sterling is Not a Racist

ABC handout of Barbara Walters interviewing V. Stiviano in Los Angeles
Barbara Walters interviews Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's female companion, V. Stiviano, in Los Angeles in this handout picture taken May 2, 2014, courtesy of ABC. ABC/Reuters

The woman who Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racist remarks to in a leaked audio recording blames the comments on his upbringing. "He was brought up to believe these things ... But through his actions he's shown that he's not a racist," she said

V. Stiviano says that the disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is not racist, but said she had “very many” conversations like the recorded one that led to his expulsion from the NBA.

“There’s been a number of occasions where Mr. Sterling and I had conversations just like this one. This was one of very many,” Stiviano told Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20 in an interview that aired Friday night. “Part of what the world heard was only 15 minutes. There’s a number of other hours that the world doesn’t know.”

Stiviano is the woman heard on the audio recording of Donald Sterling making inflammatory racial remarks, including telling Stiviano she should not post online photos of herself with black people, or bring black people to Clippers games.

She is also said to be the girlfriend of Sterling and is currently being sued by the ex-LA Clippers owner for allegedly accepting millions in gifts from him, though Stiviano denied they are romantically involved.

“I’m Mr. Sterling’s everything. I’m his confidante, his best friend, his silly rabbit,” she said. “I joke around and I make him laugh. I do things that some people find very silly and I do things that sometimes people can’t understand our relationship.”

Stiviano said that she does not believe Sterling is racist, and that he “comes from a different generation than I am.”

“I think he was brought up to believe these things … segregation, whites and blacks. But through his actions he’s shown that he’s not a racist. He’s shown to be a very generous and kind man,” she said. When asked if Sterling should apologize for his remarks, Stiviano said “absolutely.”

Sterling paid a $2.76 million settlement in 2009 to resolve a federal lawsuit in which he was accused of systematically excluding blacks and Hispanics from his rental properties.

TIME Athletes

Olympian Tyson Gay Suspended for Doping, Returns Silver Medal

FILE: U.S. Sprinter Tyson Gay Receives One-Year Ban For Doping
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency has announced that U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay has received a one-year suspension for testing positive for an anabolic steroid May 2, 2014. Christian Petersen—Getty Images

Tyson Gay, the American 100 meter record holder, has been suspended from competing for one year and has been forced to return his 2012 Olympic silver medal. Gay is tied for the second fastest man in history

U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay has been suspended for one year and forced to return his 2012 Olympic silver medal after testing positive for a banned substance, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Friday.

The USADA said Gay accepted a one-year suspension that began June 23, 2013. He was also disqualified from all results since July 15, 2015, according to Reuters, when he first used the product that contained a prohibited substance.

Tied for the second fastest man in history, Gay holds the American record for the 100 meter race. At the 2012 London Olympics, he won the silver medal with the U.S. 4×100 meter relay team.

He admitted in July that he failed a doping test, and the USADA said his punishment was reduced because he cooperated with their investigation. He’ll be eligible to compete, including in future Olympics, beginning in June.

“We appreciate Tyson doing the right thing by immediately withdrawing from competition once he was notified, accepting responsibility for his decisions, and fully and truthfully cooperating with us in our ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding his case,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a statement.

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