LOS ANGELES – Hall of Fame player Magic Johnson says Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has badly outdated views about minorities and is shockingly ignorant about HIV and AIDS for such a prominent public figure.
“He’s living in the stone ages,” Johnson said in an interview that aired Tuesday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, a day after Sterling made his first public comments since racist recordings emerged last month and earned him a lifetime NBA ban and a $2.5 million fine. “You can’t make those comments about African-Americans and Latinos. You just can’t do it.”
In Sterling’s interview with Cooper, Sterling repeatedly brought up the former NBA superstar’s HIV and called him an unfit role model for children.
Johnson mostly avoided lashing back at criticism from Sterling, who at one point cut off Cooper’s listing of Johnson’s achievements to loudly say “He’s got AIDS!” Johnson, who is HIV positive but does not have AIDS, said he was surprised Sterling didn’t make the distinction.
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“Here’s a man who you would think would be educated, and a man who is smart enough to build this type of wealth and own a team and have an incredible platform to change the world,” Johnson said. “But he’s doing it in a negative way.”
Johnson is a part-owner of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and was once a part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers after a playing career that was cut short by his contracting HIV in 1991.
“I came out like a man, I told the world,” Johnson said of his memorable news conference announcing his retirement. “I didn’t blame nobody else. I understood what I did was wrong. And I hope that I was able to help people.”
Johnson, who said he has known Sterling since he first came to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers more than 30 years ago, said he didn’t know how he got stuck in the middle of a situation that should have been a personal dispute between Sterling and V. Stiviano. Stiviano recorded Sterling making racist comments about a photo of herself and Johnson on Instagram.
“He’s trying to find something to grab on to help him save his team,” Johnson said, “and it’s not going to happen.”
Sterling’s comments about Johnson won him a quick and stinging rebuke from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who said owners were working quickly to force Sterling out of the league.
Silver or an owner has to formally charge Sterling in writing with violating Article 13 of the NBA’s constitution. A hearing would then be held and require a three-fourths vote of the board of governors to force Sterling to sell the team he has owned since 1981.
Clippers coaches and players, in Oklahoma City on Tuesday for their playoff series against the Thunder, were asked about Sterling’s latest comments, and most said they were doing their best to ignore them.
Meanwhile, crisis-management experts called Sterling’s performance on CNN a textbook case of how to turn a public-relations crisis into a catastrophe.
“It was a total train wreck,” said Howard Bragman, vice chairman of Reputation.com and longtime Los Angeles-based crisis manager whose clients have included Monica Lewinsky and gay NFL draftee Michael Sam.
CNN host Bill Weir, in the segment immediately following Cooper’s, said: “What this was to PR, the Hindenburg was to blimps.”
Experts wondered whether Sterling was being advised by a reputable public-relations firm or was flying solo.
Bragman said, “Any publicist who said to do this interview should go immediately to PR jail. But I don’t think he had anyone helping him.”
CNN confirmed Sterling was unaccompanied by any professional handlers during the interview.
Report: Pistons hire Stan Van Gundy
DETROIT – Stan Van Gundy has agreed to a $35 million, five-year contract to be the Detroit Pistons’ coach and president of basketball operations, a source said.
Detroit gave Van Gundy the powerful combination of jobs Tuesday, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. The deal was first reported by ESPN.com.
The Pistons announced in April they were not renewing Joe Dumars’ contract, ending his 14-year run as president of basketball operations.
Van Gundy, 54, has a 371-208 career record with the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. He was fired in 2012 after his fifth season with the Magic. He stunned Heat officials in December 2005 by resigning for family reasons after two-plus seasons.
Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks lost his job 50 games into the regular season. Detroit finished at 29-53 and with John Loyer as coach.
• Utah Jazz officials plan to contact Hall of Fame guard John Stockton, a standout at Gonzaga before playing for the Jazz, to see whether he has any interest in coaching the team, ESPN reported. The team’s search to replace Tyrone Corbin is expected to involve about 20 candidates, according to ESPN.
• Phoenix Suns guard Archie Goodwin, 19, was arrested May 4 on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest outside a skating rink in his hometown of Little Rock, Ark. A state trooper said Goodwin tried to break free while being arrested.