Donald Sterling slams Magic Johnson, cites HIV status

Embattled Clippers owner strikes back at Laker icon
May 13, 2014

 

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lashed out at Magic Johnson during a CNN interview broadcast Monday night, alluding to the NBA’s great’s HIV-positive diagnosis and saying, “I don’t think he’s a good example for the children of Los Angeles.”

Sterling’s comments came as he addressed racial remarks he made that prompted the NBA to ban him for life. In a recording released by TMZ two weeks ago, Sterling tells a female friend, V. Stiviano, not to associate with black people, including Johnson.

“What kind of guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then catches” HIV, Sterling told Anderson Cooper. “I think he should be ashamed of himself.”

Sterling also questioned whether Johnson has made a positive contribution to the African-American community in Los Angeles. He then pointed to his own charitable work.

“Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people,” he said.

At one point Cooper asked if he apologized to Johnson.

“If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry,” Sterling responded. “He’s a good person. I mean, what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don’t think so. But I’ll say it, he’s great. But I don’t think he’s a good example for the children of Los Angeles.”

Sterling apologized for what he said on the tape.

“When I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I can say words like that. ... I don’t know why the girl had me say those things,” he said. “I was baited ... I mean, that’s not the way I talk. I don’t talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things. I don’t talk about people.”

At the time the tape was released, Stiviano and Sterling’s wife, Shelly, were locked in a legal battle, with Shelly demanding that Stiviano give back cars and a $1.8 million condo that Donald Sterling had allegedly given her.

Sterling, in the CNN interview, also apologized for his comments.

“I’m a good member who made a mistake and I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness,” he said. “Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It’s a terrible mistake, and I’ll never do it again.”

He added: “I’m not a racist. I made a terrible mistake.”

Excerpts of the CNN interview were released hours after Shelly Sterling spoke with ABC’s Barbara Walters.

Shelly Sterling said she may eventually divorce Donald Sterling and will fight efforts to force her to sell her share of the Clippers.

In the ABC interview, Shelly Sterling also suggested that Donald Sterling was suffering from dementia, which she said could explain the comments caught on tape.

“I was shocked by what he said,” Shelly Sterling told Walters. “But I don’t know why I should be punished for what his actions were.”

The NBA responded to the recordings by banning Donald Sterling for life and saying it would seek to force him to sell the team. But Shelly Sterling said she sees the Clippers as part of her family legacy.

“I’m wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there’s 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?” she said.

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