Sterling faces stern action for racist rant

The National Basketball Association faced mounting pressure on Monday to impose a harsh punishment on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his alleged racist comments as several of the team's sponsors pulled their backing.

Sterling is being investigated by the NBA over comments he allegedly made that have since sparked widespread outrage in the United States, and the league will hold a news conference in New York City on Tuesday to discuss developments.

The NBA's brief announcement on Monday came shortly after some of the team's sponsors began withdrawing their support of the Clippers while Sterling's own family distanced themselves from him.

Auto dealer CarMax, a nine-year sponsor of the Clippers, was first to announce it was ending its association and was followed by Virgin America, State Farm, Kia Motors America, music mogul P. Diddy's water brand, AQUAHydrate, Red Bull and Yokohama Tire.

"CarMax finds the statements attributed to the Clippers' owner completely unacceptable.

These views directly conflict with CarMax's culture of respect for all," CarMax said in a statement. State Farm said it was "pausing" its relationship with the Clippers.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on Sunday the league would "move extraordinary quickly in our investigation" after an audio recording was released of a racist rant allegedly made by Sterling.

The Clippers owner, who made his fortune in real estate, has not issued any public statements but the alleged comments, which include telling a woman not to bring African-Americans to Clippers games, have drawn widespread criticism.

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