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Donald Sterling slams Magic Johnson, HIV status

Donald Sterling repeatedly disparaged Magic Johnson's HIV-positive status in an interview that aired on Monday.
May 12, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
In an interview that aired Monday, embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling repeatedly disparaged Magic Johnson's HIV-positive status, saying he was not a fit role model for children.

It was his first interview since racist recordings were leaked more than two weeks ago. Sterling told CNN's Anderson Cooper that he is not a racist and that his team still loves him. During the interview, Sterling was tearful, apologetic, angry, confrontational, but once again, controversial, especially when it came to discussing Johnson.

"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. I think he should go into the background. What does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything."

"Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people. And some of the African Americans -- maybe I'll get in trouble again -- they don't want to help anybody," Sterling said.

Johnson responded to Sterling on Twitter Monday night, saying, "I'd rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview...After this week, no more Sterling talk. Just the NBA playoffs, my @Dodgers and my @LA_Sparks!"

Sterling's racist rant was prompted by his alleged mistress, V. Stiviano, posting a picture with Johnson to her Instagram. Stiviano then recorded Sterling without his knowledge. Sterling told Cooper that he felt he was "baited" by Stiviano into making the leaked racist comments.

"I was a little jealous, I have to admit," said Sterling.

Sterling insists Stiviano is a good person.

"Whatever she did -- good or bad -- I'm the guilty one for uttering those terrible, ugly words that I didn't mean," said Sterling.

But Sterling says he no longer trusts Stiviano.

"I just want to know why she did it. It's like a woman stabbing you in the chest or shooting you," said Sterling. "I thought she cared for me. I was stupid. How could a girl care for a man 51 years older? She didn't or she wouldn't have released those tapes."

Sterling was banned for life from the NBA after the racist comments emerged. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is trying to force a sale of the Clippers.

"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," Silver said in a statement regarding Sterling's interview. "The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible."

Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, said Sunday in an interview with Barbara Walters that she will fight to retain her 50 percent ownership stake in the NBA team.

Meantime, Dick Parsons, the new interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers, met with team management and reporters on Monday. Parsons, 66, was the former head of Citigroup and Time Warner. He says he's always loved basketball and is being asked by the NBA to be a "conservator" for the Clippers. Parsons will control business operations for the foreseeable future.

"My job is to be the CEO of the enterprise and make sure the enterprise -- the boat -- still floats," said Parsons.

He says head coach Doc Rivers will run basketball operations.

"I may not be the smartest guy, but I know what I don't know," said Parsons.

Parsons says he's confident the league will succeed in forcing a sale of the team.

"My personal belief is the league will prevail, which means there will be an ownership change," Parsons said.

Parsons says all this controversy might actually help the team long-term.

"This is going to become America's team if we get this right, because Americans love a story where somebody gets knocked down and they get back up," said Parsons.

Parsons says he hasn't had any contact with either of the Sterlings, but in due time, he expects to talk with Shelly Sterling.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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