Sterling was interviewed by journalist Anderson Cooper in an attempt to apologize to the Black community for the racist remarks he made in a recorded conversation. On the audio tape he can be heard chastising his then-girlfriend, V. Stiviano, for taking photos with Black Americans and imploring her to not bring “Black friends” to the games. Hall of Famer Johnson was in a photo with Stiviano, which sparked Sterling’s ire.
During his interview with Cooper, Sterling added fuel to the fire, saying Johnson has “AIDS,” was not a good role model for Black youth, and had not done anything for the African-American community.
Johnson told TMZ he has sent more than 10,000 minority students to college, through the Magic Johnson Foundation has invested more than a billion dollars in urban America, and has put more than 50,000 minorities into jobs. He said he has given inner-city kids access to computers to do their homework via the 18 technology centers his foundation is responsible for, and he has overseen nationwide food and toy drives and job fairs.
“I’m proud of my work and I’m excited about what I do,” Johnson said. “I’m a proud Black man. I’m one of the leaders in the Black community and I take that role seriously. I don’t have any ill feelings anymore to Donald. I think we all should try to get him some help. I think it’s a shame.”
Sterling said repeatedly on Monday that Johnson has AIDS and that disqualified him from being a role model.
Johnson said, “It’s very disturbing. I think when you come on, No. 1 you should have your facts straight. I don’t have AIDS; I have HIV. I’ve been living with HIV for 22 years. That’s his opinion, if he thinks I’m not a role model. I know the things that I’ve done in urban America and for people.
“He’s trying to find something that he can grab on to help him save his team,” Johnson added. “And it’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen. The board of governors now (has) to do their job. Adam Silver, our commissioner of the NBA, did a wonderful job of banning him for life. Now the board of governors have got to do their job.”
On Tuesday, the NBA issued a statement saying its advisory-finance committee has discussed the “recent media appearances by Donald Sterling and [wife] Shelly Sterling” and will reconvene next week.
“All I know is Donald Sterling is not welcome back in the NBA,” Johnson told Cooper during a Tuesday CNN interview.
Johnson said Sterling is “delusional” for thinking the Clippers or any of the league’s players love him. He also said during his CNN interview that “the players, the fans, the sponsors would never go for” another Sterling taking control of the team, but reiterated that the decision is up to the board of governors.
“I just hope the board of governors does what it’s supposed to,” Johnson said.
Sterling said in his interview with CNN that he had talked to Johnson twice since the firestorm began and that he had apologized for his racist comments on the leaked audio recording that prompted outrage throughout the NBA and the nation when it was released, leading to his lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine from the league.
Johnson, however, said Sterling still hasn’t apologized to him for his comments. He also said Sterling wanted Johnson to appear with him in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters, but Johnson refused.
“Donald Sterling reached out to me; I took the call. I’m the one, when he wanted me to go on Barbara Walters with him and try to save him and his reputation, I told him I would not go on the show with him and I told him, ‘You should seek the advice of your attorney and try to make this thing go away,'” Johnson told TMZ. “‘Whether that’s making a deal with [girlfriend V. Stiviano] or whatever the case may be. And, No. 1, you’ve got to apologize not only to me but all minorities out there because you haven’t apologized yet.’ He said, ‘Oh, I’m gonna get to that. I’m gonna get to that.’
“Not once, even today, has he ever apologized to me or the other minorities he offended.”
“When he called me, he should’ve said, ‘Magic, I’m sorry,'” Johnson told Cooper.
Stiviano had posted a photo of herself and Johnson on her Instagram account. In the audio recording, Sterling told her to remove the photo, then made several racist remarks about African-Americans.
“I don’t know that young lady. I took a picture and all of a sudden I’m in the middle of this mess,” Johnson told TMZ. “But at the same time, I will not let you attack me without responding. And so that’s what I’ve done in this situation. I responded. I responded for myself: You don’t want me to come to your games? Then I won’t come. You don’t want Blacks to come? Then I’m going to fight for those people.”
Johnson said Sterling is misdirecting his anger in the situation. Johnson also said he believes Sterling’s strategy is to attack him and attempt to pit the Black and Jewish communities against each other, “but it’s not going to work.”
“He should point that anger at the young lady that he’s in love with that put this out,” Johnson said. “I had nothing to do with this. You put me in it, Donald, by saying those terrible things about me.
“I’m tired of talking about Donald, it’s a shame, I wish I would had did something to deserve this,” Johnson told CNN. “[I took] a photo with a young lady and I have to answer all these questions.”