Donald Sterling NBA racism row: Under-fire LA Clippers owner says Magic Johnson ‘should be ashamed of himself’ for having HIV
Embattled owner shows how not to apologise for making offensive comments
The disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned from the NBA after he was filmed making racist comments, has said in his first interview since the scandal emerged that former basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson “should be ashamed of himself” for having HIV.
Mr Sterling, who has also been fined the NBA’s maximum penalty of $2.5m (£1.5m) after a recording of the offensive comments became public, accused Johnson of trying to manipulate him so that the former player can take over the Clippers himself.
The 80-year-old billionaire found himself the target of widespread outrage when an audio recording emerged on the gossip website TMZ of him arguing with his girlfriend, 20-something model V Stiviano, about her posting a picture on Instagram posing with Johnson.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people,” Mr Sterling can be heard saying. “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it… and not to bring them to my games.”
Speaking to CNN, Mr Sterling said that he took so long to apologise for the comments because Johnson phoned him up and said: “Wait, be patient, I’ll help you, we’ll work it out.”
He criticised the former Lakers star – whose Magic Johnson Foundation has reportedly raised millions to support children and businesses in underprivileged areas of Los Angeles – of not “doing anything for the black people”.
And he said: “What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? 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.
Magic Johnson attended a Clippers match on Sunday with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (left) - a fact which was pointed out to Sterling in the CNN interview “What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?”
Mr Sterling also compared black people to Jewish people, saying: “That's one problem I have. Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people, and some of the African-Americans — maybe I'll get in trouble again — they don't want to help anybody.”
The billionaire said he had done the interview to apologise and “ask for forgiveness”, and soon backtracked, saying: “But Magic Johnson is irrelevant in this thing. He didn’t do anything harmful to anybody and I respect him and I admire everything that he does.”
Yet Mr Sterling’s latest comments were quickly condemned by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who said: “While Magic Johnson doesn't need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack.
“The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible.”
Though still the owner of the Clippers, Mr Sterling has been banned from having any other involvement in the NBA. The issue could go to a vote among the other 29 team owners, and Mr Sterling will be forced to sell the team if 75 per cent of them agree he should do so.
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