Magic Johnson was one of the black people who Donald Sterling told V. Stiviano not to associate with, which led to the 81-year old receiving a lifetime ban from the NBA. Sterling broke his silence after more than two weeks in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. During the interview, Cooper asked Sterling if he had apologized to Johnson. Sterling responded with a vague apology, and followed that up by saying the former Lakers guard is not a good role model for the children of Los Angeles.
After saying he was sorry to Magic Johnson during the interview, Sterling continued, “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.” In an early interview with Barbra Walters, Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, said that her husband was suffering from the onset of dementia.
The banned Clippers owner also went on to say that his comments were a mistake and feels that he deserves another chance. Sterling feels that the other owners of the league will give him that chance and not force him to sell the Clippers. However, if the owners do vote to force him to sell, Sterling will not fight the decision.
Sterling’s comments about Johnson seem to open up a concern over the owner’s state of mind. Johnson founded and serves as the chairman of the Magic Johnson foundation. The foundation promotes digital literacy through Community Empowerment Centers in various cities around the country. The foundation also offers scholarship opportunities to low-income students for a chance attend to college. Magic also uses the foundation for a HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention program. Johnson founded the organization in 1991, soon after the NBA great was diagnosed as positive for HIV. Many people around the world would disagree with the comments Sterling made during the interview about the Lakers great.
Sterling continued to bring questions to his state of mind as the interview continued. When Cooper asked Mr. Sterling if he was a racist the banned owner seemed to forget the three discrimination lawsuits over race that he has been involved in the last decade, or the fine of over $2.7 million to settle a lawsuit that charged that the 81-year old barred African-Americans or Hispanics from renting at one of his properties. Sterling also did not bring up the 2009 suit brought against him over racial discrimination by Elgin Baylor, the Clippers former general manager, when he said that he was not a racist and that one mistake over 35 years should be forgiven.
The Anderson Cooper interview with Sterling seems to call in more doubt in the mental competency of the Clippers owner. The idea that anyone could think that Magic Johnson is not a good role model has done nothing for the troubled Sterling except to renew the calls from the public for the NBA to remove the team from him as soon as possible. After the interview airs Monday night, the NBA will likely move quickly to bring an end to the drama that has played out over the last few weeks.
Commentary by Carl Auer