By Maurice Bobb
Donald Sterling sat down with CNN on Monday (May 12) to apologize for racist comments he made last month, but with his “I’m sorry” came comments that are likely to draw even more criticism.
Late last month, TMZ released audio recordings of the Los Angeles Clippers owner arguing with his then-girlfriend over a photo she took with NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. Sterling berated her for “associating with black people,” and shortly after she leaked the recordings, Sterling was banned for life from the NBA.
And in his first interview since the incident, Sterling told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the reason he waited so long to apologize was that Johnson called him and told him to remain silent. He later questioned the Dodgers owner’s character and philanthropy.
“What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?” Sterling asked. “Well, 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. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn’t do anything.”
Cooper reminded Sterling that Magic is charitable, citing his work to provide funds for HIV/AIDS awareness, testing and treatment, but that fell on deaf ears.
“He’s got AIDS,” Sterling said. “Did he help anybody in south LA? He does nothing. It’s all talk.”
While sharing that he was “baited” into making racist comments by V. Stiviano, the woman who leaked the recordings, Sterling offered up his mea culpa.
“I’m not a racist, I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt,” he said.
Despite the fact that the NBA is seeking a vote from the other 29 franchise owners to force the disgraced owner to sell the team he bought in 1981 for $12.5 million, Sterling told Cooper that he will not sue.
“People want me to hire a wall of lawyers and them hire a wall of lawyers and to go to war,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the answer. I think that whatever they decide has to be done, I think I should work with them and do it.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has already gone on record after reading a transcript of the interview to reiterate that the NBA’s Board of Governors “is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible,” while the Clippers head coach, Doc Rivers summed up the rest of the league’s stance on Sterling’s act of contrition.
“That doesn’t sound like much of an apology to me,” he said.
Magic Johnson is scheduled to appear on “Anderson Cooper” Tuesday (May 13) to speak on Sterling’s comments.