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Magic Johnson Speaks with Anderson Cooper on Donald Sterling's Recent Comments

GARY, IN - APRIL 28: Earvin 'Magic' Johnson Jr speaks at a press conference on student scholarships in Indiana on April 28, 2014 in Gary, Indiana. Former NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson held the press conference to promote a benefit to raise money for student scholarships in Gary. During the press conference Johnson also answered questions in regard to comments made by Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIMay 13, 2014

NBA legend Magic Johnson responded to recent comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in an exclusive interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday. 

Johnson specifically addressed Sterling's criticism of his humanitarian efforts, offering, "My whole life is devoted to urban America. So, you know I just wish he knew the facts when he’s talking. But he's a man who's upset and he's reaching. He's reaching."

He continued: 

He's trying to find something that he can grab on to help him save his team. And it's not going to happen. It's not going to happen. The board of governors now have to do their job. Adam Silver, our commissioner of the NBA, did a wonderful job of banning him for life. Now the board of governors have got to do their job.

Johnson also said he would pray for Sterling: 

And again, I'm going to pray for the man because even if I see him today, I'm going to say hello to Donald and his wife as well. I'm not a guy who holds grudges and all that. Yes, am I upset? Of course. But at the same time, I'm a God-fearing man and I'm going to pray for him and hope things work out for him.

Though he did wish him well, Johnson maintained that Sterling's views are archaic, via Mike James of the Los Angeles Times:

Johnson also joked about the notion of him taking over the Clippers franchise, via Yahoo Sports:

On Monday, Cooper sat down with the 80-year-old Sterling for an exclusive interview regarding the racist remarks he made, and the disgraced owner had this to say about Johnson, via CNN.com's Catherine E. Shoichet and Steve Almasy:

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? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything.

New league commissioner Adam Silver, who has banned Sterling for life and given him the maximum NBA Constitution fine of $2.5 million, issued an apology to Johnson for Sterling's CNN interview, per the NBA on ESPN:

Cooper himself has taken to Johnson's defense:

It stands to reason that his discussion with Cooper will be the last time Johnson will discuss Sterling for quite some time, based on these recent tweets:

The private-life potshot Sterling leveled at Johnson has nothing to do with his own unbecoming conduct that painted him as a behind-the-scenes bigot.

His most recent comments project insecurity and don't help Sterling's cause to retain his team. Widespread, well-founded vitriol has followed Sterling in the aftermath of his racist utterances. Rather than firing back at Sterling, which was well within his right, Johnson took the high road, instead opting to suggest he needs help.

Whatever happens moving forward, Sterling should keep out of the public eye as much as possible, because nothing he said to Cooper has helped him. Juxtaposed with Johnson's hope that Sterling can change his staunch ways, public sentiment has to be even more against Sterling than his ill-fated initial attempt at positive PR.

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