Just one day after L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s explosive CNN interview, Magic Johnson sat down with Anderson Cooper Tuesday to respond to Sterling’s offensive remarks.
Johnson — who was the recipient of many of Sterling’s verbal shots, from his HIV status to his work with the urban community — expressed dismay at Sterling’s comments and confusion about the role he played in the controversy.
“The problem is, he is living in the Stone Ages,” Johnson said. “He can’t make those comments about African-Americans or Latinos. He just can’t do it.”
“He needs to address this young lady, because that is the problem,” Johnson added. “That is where the problem started, not with Magic Johnson. It started with his girlfriend.”
Johnson touched upon Sterling’s claims that he told the Clippers owner to keep quiet as fallout from his controversial racist comments sparked a media firestorm. Sterling accused Johnson of “lulling” him into not responding as a ploy to take over the Clippers.
“These are the facts. I was sitting in my office, I got a call from Donald Sterling … And this is what happened. He asked me to go on the Barbara Walters show with him,” Johnson said, “This was a week ago … I told him I wouldn’t do it. I said, the number one thing you need to do, which you haven’t done, is apologize to everybody and myself. [Sterling said] ‘I will get to that. I will get to that.'”
“It is not about owning a team,” Johnson added. “Now, what I want — really would want to do is own the Lakers. If any team I want to really have or be a part of would be the Lakers, not the Clippers.”
Perhaps the most shocking part of Cooper’s sit-down with Sterling came when the Clippers owner blasted Johnson for having HIV, claiming that Johnson isn’t a role model in part due to his diagnosis.
“Well, you know, here is a man who we would think would be educated and a man who would — is smart enough to build this type of wealth and own a team that has an incredible platform to change the world,” Johnson said. “But he is doing it in a negative way. You know, first of all, 22 years ago, I announced that I did have HIV. And I came out like a man. You know, I told the world.”
“I didn’t blame nobody else. I understood what I did was wrong, OK?,” Johnson added. “So I announced that to the world. And I hope that I was able to help people in doing that. And I think I did.”
Johnson clarified that he has done major work for the HIV and Black communities, giving away $15 million to HIV/AIDS foundations.
He also responded to Sterling’s estranged wife Shelly’s claims that the Clippers owner is suffering from dementia, telling Cooper, “I don’t know this Donald.”
At the conclusion of the discussion, Johnson expressed his desire to not talk about Sterling and his involvement, or lack thereof.
“I’m going to do one more interview, and that’s it. I’m not going to do any more,” Johnson said. “I’m tired. I’m tired of talking about Donald. I’m — it is a shame. I wish I had did something to deserve this, right? Taking a photo with a young lady, and then I have to answer all these questions.”
Instead, Johnson said, there should be a greater focus on an incredible NBA playoff season.
“We should be celebrating that, the NBA,” Johnson said. “Right now, we can’t celebrate that because of the fact of what Donald Sterling is doing.”