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Magic Johnson responds to Donald Sterling criticism
Magic Johnson said he turned down Donald Sterling's plea for help when the disgraced owner of the Los Angeles Clippers asked the Lakers icon to appear with him in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters after Sterling's bigoted remarks about African-Americans and Johnson became public.
Johnson made that revelation in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper that aired Tuesday night. He also responded to several personal criticisms aimed at him by Sterling in an interview with Cooper on Monday night.
Describing the 80-year-old Sterling as "delusional" and as someone "living in the Stone Age," Johnson praised NBA commissioner Adam Silver for banning the Clippers owner for life, and he called on the league's Board of Governors to vote in favor of forcing him to sell.
"Donald Sterling is not welcome in the NBA," Johnson told Cooper. "I hope the owners vote it right. The players don't want him."
Asked if Sterling's estranged wife Shelly or any member of his family should be allowed to take over the Clippers, Johnson said, "The players, the fans, the sponsors wouldn't go for it."
That sentiment was echoed by NBA Players Association vice president Roger Mason Jr. in an interview with commentator Jim Rome on Showtime. Mason said Miami Heat star LeBron James is prepared to lead a player boycott of the 2014-15 season if the Sterlings still control the Clippers.
"LeBron and I talked about it," Mason told Rome. "He ain't playing if Sterling is still an owner."
Sterling lashed out at Johnson in a personal way, questioning his status as a role model and his financial support of the African-American community in Los Angeles.
Johnson called Sterling's remarks "sad" and noted that he has devoted his business life to investing in underserved urban minority areas.
He said the Magic Johnson Foundation has raised more than $15 million for charity, and according to its website, it has donated an additional $4 million in scholarships.
Johnson said Sterling called him when news of his bigoted remarks broke and asked the former Laker to sit with him in an interview with Walters.
"I told him I wouldn't do it," Johnson said. "I told him the No. 1 thing he should do is apologize, including to me."
Asked if he received an apology, Johnson said, "No."