Donald Sterling slams Magic Johnson as unfit role model (+video)

An attempt at rehabilitating his public image turned sour for the Clippers owner when he repeatedly criticized Magic Johnson during an interview with Anderson Cooper. Sterling's remarks let to further condemnations from the NBA.

By , Associated Press

An interview that was supposed to be an attempt at rehabilitation instead had Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling facing fresh rebukes as he went from apologizing for recent racist remarks to slamming Magic Johnson.

Sterling repeatedly brought up the ex-NBA star's HIV status and celled him an unfit role model for children.

"He's got AIDS!" Sterling said loudly at one point in the interview, cutting off CNN's Anderson Cooper as the interviewer attempted to cite Johnson's accomplishments after Sterling asked, "What has he done, big Magic Johnson, what has he done?"

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The comments earned Sterling quick condemnation from the league that was already trying to rid itself of the owner.

Commissioner Adam Silver, who gave Sterling a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine two weeks ago, issued a statement saying, "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," the commissioner added.

Johnson, who is scheduled to appear on Cooper's show to reply on Tuesday, wrote on his Twitter account that "I'd rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview."

Johnson later Tweeted, "After this week, no more Sterling talk."

Sterling changed course briefly during the interview to call Johnson "a good person," but soon resumed his criticism.

"He acts so holy," Sterling said. "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 I 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?"

Cooper corrected Sterling, explaining that Johnson was HIV-positive but did not have "full-blown AIDS."

Sterling briefly adjusted his language but not his tone.

"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?" Sterling said. "I think he should be ashamed of himself."

As The Christian Science Monitor reported, aside from his comments on Johnson, Sterling's apology may not be enough to retain ownership of the Clippers.

“In this case, even with Sterling trying to make amends for the allegations against him, it might be a case of too little, too late,” says Derek Arnold, who teaches communication at Villanova University near Philadelphia who has studied the art of the public apology.

On one hand, says Mr. Arnold, who made his comments via e-mail, Sterling fulfills many of the requirements of apologizing, such as acknowledging his mistake. He also stated it would never happen again.

But at least two things work against the longtime lawyer and NBA team owner, Arnold says: Sterling took a relatively lengthy amount of time to reply publicly to the charges against him, and he has a spotty history with women and minorities that has been documented in legal depositions over the past two decades.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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