LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Sports legend Magic Johnson has responded to a verbal attack by banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, which occurred in the middle of what was originally meant to be an apology.
After an audio tape surfaced in late April, featuring Sterling as he tells the woman in the tape, V. Stiviano, not to bring black people to Clippers games — with a particular emphasis on Magic Johnson — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took swift action, banning Sterling from NBA activities and proposing a vote to force Sterling to sell the team, at the hands of the Board of Governors.
It took Sterling about two weeks after Silver’s announcement to come out with a public apology, on CNN’s Anderson Cooper’s show, on Monday.
In the interview with Cooper, Sterling began by stating that he was sorry, and that he had made a mistake, and, further, that he is not a racist.
Amidst the apology, Sterling continued to state that he had respect for Magic Johnson, who has HIV, and admired all that he had accomplished.
Moments later, however, Sterling seemed to have shifted his focus on Johnson, asking Cooper, “Big Magic Johnson, what has he ever done? He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anybody in South LA? What kind of guy goes to every city and has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV, and is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn’t do anything.”
The attack, it is widely believed, accomplished a deeper controversy than Sterling had originally sparked with his original comments, released in April.
On Tuesday, Magic Johnson had some words for Sterling, and it seems he wanted to address the attack with a positive attitude.
“…am I upset? Of course,” Johnson said on CNN. “But, at the same time, I’m a God-fearing man, I’m going to pray for him, and hope that things work out for him.”
Other public figures, including Mayor Eric Garcetti and sportscaster John Ireland, responded to the attempted apology with declarations that the Clippers are clearly in need of new ownership, and with words in the defense of Magic Johnson.
“Everybody has hardships they overcome, people have challenges in life, and he embodies that,” Mayor Garcetti told KCAL9. “This is the city of second chances, and not only was he a great basketball player that I grew up loving, admiring his skills, but the challenges that he’s faced, he’s not only been able to overcome, but to bring other into them, to be a business success, to help inspire people to overcome the social challenges that they have. And to me, he represents the best of LA. To hear him bad-mouthed, I can’t think of many ways of a better person to inspire our youth in this city than Magic Johnson, so I very respectfully disagree with Mr. Sterling.”
Johnson, meanwhile, suggested that Sterling is showing the signs of a desperate man, trying to play any card he can to try to keep his team.
The former NBA star and current Los Angeles Dodgers owner does not believe he will succeed.
“I just wish he knew the facts when he’s talking,” Johnson said. “But he’s a man who is upset, and he’s reaching. He’s reaching. He’s trying to find something he can grab on to that will help him save his team. And it’s not going to happen.”
The rest of the NBA owners, in the meantime, are continuing to gather, with the goal of discussing the future of Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers.