The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

May 13, 2014

Donald Sterling: Don’t go away mad, just go away

ENID, Okla. — Another day, another Donald Sterling rant.

This time, Sterling was apparently trying to apologize for his earlier racist comments that earned him a lifetime ban from the National Basketball Association. He still owns the league’s Los Angeles Clippers franchise, though hopefully not much longer if the league has its way.

On Monday, in a rambling, cringeworthy interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Sterling apologized for his racist comments, which were leaked last month by his girlfriend, V. Stiviano.

Except it wasn’t much of an apology. Oh, Sterling said he was not a racist, called his comments a “terrible mistake” and blamed Stiviano for baiting him into making them.

Then he proceeded to rip NBA legend Magic Johnson, who was featured in a photo with Stiviano that sparked Sterling’s original racist outburst.

“Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?” Sterling asked. “He’s got AIDS.”

When Cooper pointed out that Johnson indeed is HIV positive, but does not have full-blown AIDS, Sterling pressed on, “What kind of a guy has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone 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?”

Let’s review. Johnson revealed he was HIV positive on Nov. 7, 1991, admitting he had numerous sexual partners during his playing career. He immediately retired from the NBA, though he came back for the 1992 All-Star Game, a stint on the Olympic “Dream Team” that same year and a brief attempt at a comeback later in the decade.

Magic’s wife, Cookie, forgave him his indiscretions and stayed with him. They have been married since 1991.

After being diagnosed with HIV, Johnson formed the Magic Johnson Foundation to raise money to “address the educational, health and social needs of ethnically diverse, urban communities,” according to the group’s literature. The foundation has raised more than $20 million for charity and has awarded nearly $4 million in scholarships.

Johnson has become a spokesman for HIV and AIDS prevention, as well as safe sex, has raised money for AIDS research and has spoken before the United Nations, the World AIDS Days Conference and Congress on the subject.

In 1987, Johnson founded MJ Enterprises, which focuses on bringing high-quality businesses to minority areas. And he has done just that, opening movie theaters, fitness centers, fast food restaurants and retail stores in urban areas normally under-served by established firms.

Johnson has promoted education, raising money for the United Negro College Fund and creating 17 Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in six states, designed to help students bridge the gap between high school and college.

Johnson also has become a minority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, during which time he has managed to stay away from making ridiculous public comments that embarrass the team, the league and the city.

Meanwhile, Donald Sterling has been sued by former Clippers general manager and former NBA great Elgin Baylor for discriminatory treatment, is a landlord who has been sued for discriminating against black and Hispanic tenants, has been sued by a former female employee for sexual harassment and is 80 years old, married and has a 29-year-old girlfriend.

To be fair, he has donated lots of money to various groups that serve minorities, all the while verbally disparaging blacks and Hispanics.

Is Donald Sterling someone 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.

And he should do so as soon as possible. No more apologies necessary.

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Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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