Sharpton to NBA: Suspend Donald Sterling or We’ll Go after Advertisers

By Melanie Arter | April 29, 2014 | 11:07 AM EDT

Rev. Al Sharpton (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

( – Rev. Al Sharpton, founder of the National Action Network and host of MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation,” told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that if the NBA does not quickly suspend Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist comments he allegedly made, his group will go after advertisers.

“So what we’ve said in National Action Network is the NBA ought to move right away. Let's not play games. They say they're going to investigate. He needs to state unequivocally, ‘That's not me on the tape.’ If it is him on the tape, they need to move today, or we're going after advertisers, saying, ‘How can you advertise with a team owned by a man with this kind of attitude?’” Sharpton said.

TMZ reported Friday that Sterling allegedly told his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, not to bring blacks to his games, including Magic Johnson. The audio of the whole exchange was captured on tape.

In 2009, Sterling paid $2.75 million in what the Justice Department called “the largest monetary payment ever obtained” in an alleged housing discrimination case against African-Americans, Hispanics, and families with children for apartment buildings he controls in Los Angeles.

He was also sued in 2011 by Clippers General Manager Elgin Baylor for unlawful termination based on age discrimination, but the jury found neither the team nor Sterling nor President Andy Roeser presided over a hostile workplace in which alleged harassment occurred.

“I think that clearly the National Basketball Association must suspend him, or must say that, ‘We're going to remove any kind of imprimatur we have on this team if he's the owner.’ You cannot have someone own an NBA team in this country and have these kind of attitudes. You must remember, he settled multi-million dollar discrimination lawsuits in the past, so he has a background,” Sharpton said.

“The NBA, you know, people are appealing to the players and all, this is not about the players. This is about the NBA saying that it's acceptable or excusable to behave like this,” Sharpton said. “And we've seen where sports can unite a country. We just hung a plaque to Nelson Mandela at Yankee Stadium. He used rugby to bring South Africa together after Apartheid. This is the exact opposite of that.”

Meanwhile, the NBA is set to discuss the league’s investigation and possibly disciplinary actions against Sterling on Tuesday.