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Magic Johnson was asked the question on everyone’s mind when he appeared on a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Wednesday: Is he going to buy the Los Angeles Clippers?
“I have been saying ‘no’ all the time. I think we will see what happens. I will be owning an NBA team sometime. It has to be the right situation. Is the Clippers the right situation?” he told the group, which was moderated by Jim Gray.
Johnson is the latest high-profile name in a growing list of potential buyers, after it was revealed earlier in the day that Oprah Winfrey is in discussions with David Geffen and Larry Ellison to make a bid for the team, a spokesperson for Oprah confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
The speculation comes after Clippers owner Donald Sterling was handed a lifetime ban from the NBA on Tuesday and a $2.5 million fine by the league commissioner Adam Silver, who said he would try and ensure that the team is sold.
On Friday evening, audio of a conversation between Sterling and girlfriend V. Stiviano was posted on TMZ. What appears to be Sterling’s voice can be heard chastising Stiviano for attending Clippers games with “minorities.”
Johnson went on to praise the success of the team from a business standpoint. “It was one of the premier franchises. Despite what we think of him [Sterling], he has done a good job with his business. We just have to wait and see [what happens].”
Earlier in the panel, Johnson praised Silver’s swift resolution of the issue. “It was a great decision, it had to be done. He made the only decision that he could make and that was to ban Donald Sterling. Racism has no place in our society, in sports or in the NBA.
“I was proud of him and I was proud of the Clippers players for responding the way they did last night; they had a hard couple of days but came together. This is not over, it is step one and there are a couple more steps that need to be done.”
As for the racist comments aimed at him by the shamed owner: “I was frustrated, disappointed, upset, because one of the first people I met in L.A. was Donald Sterling. From taking a picture with a young lady to this, it has blown my mind!” Johnson said, referring to the now infamous Instagram photo.
Following reports that the players had been threatening to boycott games, Johnson said that it was a very real risk.
“If the decision came down differently than it was, you wouldn’t have seen that game [between the Clippers and Golden State Warriors] last night or any other game from here on out in the playoffs. The players were ready to boycott, they should have been ready to boycott, this was much bigger than a basketball game or the NBA,” he explained.
Hours after Silver’s statement, the Clippers — touting the motto “We Are One” throughout the Staples Center — prevailed against the Golden State Warriors 113-103 during the first round NBA playoff series. They now will return to Oakland to play game 6 Thursday.
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