Trying to dispel his image as a racist, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has given an interview to CNN in which he runs down former basketball star Magic Johnson as an example of African-Americans who "don't want to help anybody." Sterling contrasted this with what he described as the generous communal philanthropy of his fellow successful Jews.
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"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 told interviewer Anderson Cooper on Monday.
This is the second time in the Sterling saga that the 80-year-old businessman, born Donald Tokowitz, has brought the Jewish angle into his one-sided feud with black people. In the infamous audiotape of his September 2013 conversation at a Clippers game, he seemed to justify his derisory views of African-Americans by noting how in Israel "the blacks are just treated like dogs."
When his young, Mexican-black girlfriend, V. Stiviano, compared his attitudes to those that brought on the Holocaust, Sterling ridiculed the comparison, calling her a "mental case."
That Magic Johnson
In his interview with Cooper, Sterling aired a new set of opinions about blacks and Jews after haranguing Johnson, who had gotten Sterling's goat in the notorious audiotape because Stiviano had taken an Instagram of herself with the former Lakers star, which led Sterling to tell her not to bring black guests to Clippers games.
After being asked by Cooper if he'd apologized to Johnson, Sterling said with a frown that Johnson was "a good person … what am I going to say, he's great," the 80-year-old businessman described Johnson as an AIDS-stricken lothario who's done nothing to help anyone.
Cooper asked, "Are you saying that African-Americans don't contribute to the African-American community as much as Jewish people …"
Sterling replied, "There's no African-American … never mind. … I'm sorry … You know, they all want to play golf with me. … Everybody wants to be with me."
Cooper had interjected that Johnson carries the HIV virus but is not afflicted with AIDS, and, after the interview, informed the TV audience that the Magic Johnson Foundation contributes millions of dollars toward HIV/AIDS awareness and scholarships for minority students.
Johnson tweeted afterward, "I'd rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview."
And this was an apology, yet
Sterling has been banned for life and fined $2.5 million by the National Basketball Association, yet he told Cooper he still hopes the league's owners will let him stay on as Clippers' owner.
"I'm apologizing and I'm asking forgiveness," he said. "Am I entitled to make a mistake? It's a terrible mistake and I'll never do it again."
Later, before going on the attack against Johnson and African-Americans, Sterling maintained, "I’m not a racist and I've never been a racist. It's not me."
Also on Monday, his estranged wife Shelly told NBC-TV's Barbara Walters that she, too, had never considered Sterling a racist during their 60 years of marriage, and that when she confronted him about the tape, which she described as "disgusting" and "degrading," Sterling told her he didn't remember saying those things.
"That's when I thought he had dementia," she told Walters.
Shelly Sterling said the couple separated about a year ago, and that she had since signed divorce papers, but held back on filing them on the advice of her attorney and financial adviser.
Asked if she loved him, she replied, "I don't love him. I pity him and I feel sorry for him."