Skip to content

Donald Sterling slams Magic Johnson, tries to appologize in PR disaster of an interview

May 12, 2014, 9:36 PM EST

Donald Sterling Donald Sterling

Donald Sterling sat down with Anderson Cooper on CNN to apologize and try to get in front of the public relations mess his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers has become in the wake of a recording of him making racist statements was made public. Statements that forced the league to ban him for life and start efforts to force a sale of the team against his will.

It didn’t come off as he had planned.

While Sterling apologized for his racist remarks, calling them “foolish, stupid, uneducated words that I uttered” he at other points went off on rants that made him seem a combination of angry, out of touch and just sad sad. He broke down in tears at several other points. He seemed unaware of both himself, his words and his role in all of this.

One of those rants was about about Magic Johnson, a person largely beloved in Los Angeles for his play on the court and his business dealings off it.

“He acts so holy. He made love to every girl in every city in America and he had AIDS. And when he had those AIDS I went to my synagogue and prayed for him. I hope he could live and be well. I didn’t criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children? Because he has money he is able to treat himself…. He is irrelevant in this thing….

“He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anybody in South LA?… What kind of a guy goes to every city and has sex with every girl and he catches it, HIV, is that somebody 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. What does he do for the black people? The Jewish people have a company, it’s for people who want to borrow money at no interest. We want to give them a fishing pole. We want to help people. You don’t have any money, we’ll loan it to you, without any interest. One day you’ll pay us back. I’m just telling you he does nothing, he’s all talk.”

Sterling said Magic called him up when the tape was first made public and told him to do nothing.

“I think he wanted me to just do nothing so he could buy the team. He thought maybe the whole thing would be resolved in two weeks. What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?

When you watched the interview, if felt pretty clear when Sterling was “on script” that he got from his public relations person/handler and when he went off it. There was a reason Sterling was long kept from media interviews around the Clippers, you could see it in this interview.

When on script he was apologetic to a fault.

“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. And I’ve hurt so many people, so many innocent people. And I’ve hurt myself. I spoke to a girl I was fond of and I don’t know why, when I listened to that tape, I don’t even know how I could say words like that. I’m not a racist. I love people. I always have. But those words came out of my mouth, I guess, and I’m so sorry, and I’m so apologetic.”

But when he was off script it was obvious, at times sounding whiny and at others like an old man filled with conspiracies.

He thinks the players still back him.

“The players don’t hate me. The sponsors don’t hate me. The fans don’t hate me. The media hates me, it’s all the media. I believe it 100 percent. People call me by the thousands and give me support. 

He would go on to say he doesn’t think the other owners want him out, that the players don’t hate him, that this is all media driven. Check out this exchange about the owners wanting him ousted and moving toward that end:

Sterling: “I’m not sure that’s what they want.”

Cooper: “That is what they want.”

Sterling: “Well that’s your opinion, and that’s what the media says. I’m a good owner and I have a good team, there are people that want to buy my team, because the media says that owners want me out doesn’t mean they want me out.”

For the record, all 29 other NBA owners publicly backed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s move to suspend Sterling for life from the league and to try to force a sale of the team.

I don’t know that this interview helped change any of those minds, and those are the ones that matter.

Latest Posts
  1. Lakers plan to give Kobe Bryant more rest in practice

    Nov 24, 2014, 8:45 PM EST

    Kobe Bryant Kobe Bryant

    Bryant has played heavy minutes so far this season.

  2. Lakers forward Xavier Henry ruptured Achilles in practice, out for season

    Nov 24, 2014, 7:27 PM EST

    New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    This would make three Lakers players out for the season with injuries.

  3. Adam Silver tells GQ he would like a hard salary cap, higher age limit

    Nov 24, 2014, 7:19 PM EST

    Photo courtesy GQ Photo courtesy GQ

    “I think it would benefit the league to raise the minimum age from 19 to 20.” —Adam Silver

  4. LeBron James on Cavaliers’ struggles: “I stink”

    Nov 24, 2014, 4:45 PM EST

    Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Things are not coming together as quickly as some expected in Cleveland.

  5. PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Life is good in the Golden State

    Nov 24, 2014, 3:44 PM EST

    Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers Golden State Warriors v Portland Trail Blazers

    The bottom of the rankings are pretty obvious, the top harder to put together.

  6. Greg Oden says he’s not interested in comeback right now

    Nov 24, 2014, 2:33 PM EST

    Greg Oden Greg Oden

    Former No. 1 pick facing felony battery charges

  7. Derrick Rose says hamstring is pain-free, still unsure whether he’ll play tonight at Jazz

    Nov 24, 2014, 1:55 PM EST

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Bulls point guard says he’ll return tomorrow against the Nuggets at the latest

  8. Eric Gordon out indefinitely after MRI reveals torn labrum

    Nov 24, 2014, 1:17 PM EST

    Eric Gordon Eric Gordon

    Pelicans guard dealing with yet another injury

  9. Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverley out vs. Knicks

    Nov 24, 2014, 12:38 PM EST

    Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game Two Getty Images

    Rockets without their two best defensive players

  10. Damian Lillard, as stature grows, refuses to become content

    Nov 24, 2014, 11:38 AM EST

    Damian Lillard Damian Lillard

    Trail Blazers star keeps elevating game. Will he ever level off?

  11. Report: Nets might trade Andrei Kirilenko to Jazz

    Nov 24, 2014, 9:35 AM EST

    Andrei Kirilenko, Alec Burks Andrei Kirilenko, Alec Burks

    Utah would reportedly send Jeremy Evans and Toure’ Murry to Brooklyn

  12. Report: Dwight Howard might play against Knicks tonight

    Nov 24, 2014, 9:04 AM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Rockets center has missed last two games after plasma therapy on knee

  13. Grizzlies GM: “We have every intention of re-signing Marc Gasol”

    Nov 24, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    Boston Celtics v Memphis Grizzlies Boston Celtics v Memphis Grizzlies

    Memphis can offer more money than anyone else, but Gasol will have options.

Featured video

Could Sixers be worst team in NBA history?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (9029)
  2. D. Wade (7611)
  3. K. Durant (7246)
  4. P. Gasol (7123)
  5. D. Howard (6112)
  1. R. Westbrook (6002)
  2. T. Jones (5682)
  3. O. Asik (5476)
  4. D. Lee (5256)
  5. K. Martin (5174)