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Sports

May 13, 2014

Sterling stirs new dispute with Magic-HIV remarks

LOS ANGELES — 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, repeatedly bringing up the ex-NBA star’s HIV status and calling 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?”

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.

Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelley Sterling, watched her husband’s interview and told NBC’s “Today” show that he may be losing his mental faculties.

“He’s not the man I know, or I knew,” she said. “There’s something wrong. I really think, personally, he has dementia.

“I don’t think it happened overnight. I think it’s been happening, but nobody really knew the reason. I mean, he gets crazy, and yells, and screams, and hollers one moment. The next moment he’ll ... talk about something else. I mean it’s like nothing makes sense.”

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.”

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