Magic Johnson still doesn’t understand why Donald Sterling keeps dragging his name into his mess. But the NBA Hall of Famer wasn’t just going to sit back and let the disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner maliciously disparage his name and all he has done for inner-city minorities and communities any further.
Johnson fired back at Sterling, speaking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night, one day after Sterling berated him on the same journalist's television program.
During the interview, Johnson vigorously refuted any personal attack that Sterling made against him, but not before simply stating that he feels “sorry” for the 80-year-old owner.
“I just feel sorry for him,” Johnson told Cooper. “I really do. It’s sad. The problem is, he is living in the Stone Ages. He can’t make those comments about African-Americans or Latinos. He just can’t do it.”
And to Sterling’s allegation that Johnson doesn’t do “anything” for Black people, the hoops legend offered that his foundation has “given away more than $15 million” and he has “150 kids on scholarship right now,” among other enterprises that help give minorities opportunities.
“We’ve committed thousands and thousands of jobs in urban America,” Johnson explained. “Those people can walk to their jobs and take care of their families because of Starbucks, 24-Hour Fitness, on and on and on...the Magic Johnson Theaters. I continue to do good work in urban America and I’m devoted, my whole life is devoted to urban America. I just wish he knew the facts when he’s talking. But he’s a man who’s upset and he’s reaching. He’s reaching. He’s trying to find something that he can grab on to help him save his team. And it’s not going to happen.”
About the Clippers, Johnson also addressed Sterling’s assertion that the players still “love” him.
“He is delusional,” Johnson said. “Not only the Clippers don’t love him, the other players in the NBA don’t love him. The players have rallied together. He can’t buy his way out of this one. He has bought his way out of all the other situations. Can’t do it this time."
Johnson also made sure to clarify that he never called Sterling and advised him to lay low as the Clippers owner alleged to Cooper on Monday night. Instead, Johnson says it was Sterling who called him and asked him to do a joint sit-down interview with Barbara Walters, an idea Johnson scoffed at.
In addition, when Cooper rolled Monday night footage of Sterling lambasting Johnson and saying he has “AIDS”, the former Los Angeles Lakers great couldn’t believe that Sterling didn’t know the difference between AIDS and the HIV he contracted 22 years ago.
“Here’s a man we would think would be educated,” Johnson said of Sterling. “A man who is smart enough to build this type of wealth and own a team and has an incredible platform to change the world. And he’s doing it in a negative way.”
Johnson ended the interview by suggesting that Sterling not fight the sale of his franchise and instead, simply, “go on with your life.”
When news of Sterling’s racist remarks on a recorded conversation first leaked last month, Sterling could be heard berating his then-confidant V. Stiviano for posting an Instagram picture of herself with Johnson. He subsequently was banned for life and fined $2.5 million by NBA commissioner Adam Silver in late April. Sterling only made matters worse when he apologized for his racist remarks to Cooper on Monday night, but kept personally attacking Johnson.
If three-fourths of NBA owners vote against Sterling, he will be forced to sell the Clippers.
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(Photos from left: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN.com, AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)