After Donald Sterling‘s rambling rant on Monday, where he slammed Magic Johnson for everything from his community work to being HIV positive, the former NBA star was the epitome of calm while he spoke with Anderson Cooper on Tuesday.
Johnson still seemed perplexed as to how he got dragged into the drama that has surrounded the 80-year-old Los Angeles Clippers’ owner and his girlfriend V. Stiviano since the allegedly racist audio recordings were released on April 25.
“I was caught in the middle of this love affair or whatever they had,” he marveled to Cooper. “This is not about me; it’s about this woman who recorded you [Sterling]. And then you drag me into it and talk about my work in the community. He needs to address this young lady. That’s where the problem is. It’s not with Magic Johnson.
“He is upset and he’s reaching. He’s trying to hold onto his team, and it’s not going to happen,” he said of the shamed businessman who has been banned for life from the NBA and slapped with a $2.5 million fine.
Rather than apologizing for the racist slurs directed at him, Sterling even called Johnson last week. “He asked me to go on the Barbara Walters show for that interview. I told him I wouldn’t, and I said the number one thing you haven’t done is apologize. My attorney then told me, ‘You can’t be calling to Donald.'”
The Los Angeles Lakers legend responded meticulously to each of Sterling’s strange statements made during the previous night’s interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
On Magic “having AIDS” from “going to every city and having sex with every girl,” and not helping the community or minorities in Los Angeles, Johnson responded:
“22 years ago I announced I have HIV, I came out like a man and I told the world. I didn’t blame anybody else. I understood what I did was wrong.” (Johnson went on to reveal how he has counseled AIDS victims, hugged people who are dying in hospices and donated millions of dollars.)
“The stigma is still there; we’ve been fighting it for years. It is a shame that Donald used his platform with you — instead of apologizing and saying he made mistakes. It is disturbing and sad. He didn’t do his homework.”
On Shelly Sterling‘s comments that her husband has dementia:
“I don’t know this Donald. I knew about the lawsuits. I didn’t think he would take it to this level. He seems like he’s all there — he can remember when he met me 35 years ago, he can’t be slipping that much. The problem is that he is living in the stone age.”
On Sterling’s claims that he still has the support of the players, the fans and league:
“He wants us [African-Americans] to play for him, but he doesn’t want us in the stands. Now he is delusional. Not only don’t the Clippers still love him, the other players in the NBA don’t love him. He can’t buy his way out of this one.”
On Sterling’s claims that Magic wants to buy the Clippers:
“If it comes out and it’s for sale and my Guggenheim Partners and I say, ‘OK, we want to take a look at it and we want to buy it,’ of course we will make a run for it [explaining that it will be eight months to a year before the team hits the market].”
“My friends who own Golden State asked me to join them. … I could be an owner tomorrow with the Pistons, right? It is not about owning the team. Now what I really want to do is own the Lakers, not the Clippers!
“If I was going to steal someone’s franchise and trick someone, it is going to be the Los Angeles Lakers.”
“I think the players, the fans and the sponsors wouldn’t go for it.”
Johnson’s final words of advice for Sterling:
“You are 80 years old, you’ve had a tremendous life. You are fighting a battle you can’t win. Just go and enjoy your life.
“I am tired of talking about Donald,” he concluded, saying that this would be his final interview on the matter. “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.”
Johnson said he wanted to instead focus on one of the best NBA playoff seasons “in 30 or 35 years,” adding that he went to the Clippers game on Sunday after vowing that he wouldn’t because “I wanted to support Doc Rivers, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the rest of the Clippers.”
Watch clips from the interview with Cooper below: