Full transcript: Magic Johnson responds to Donald Sterling in CNN interview

Trancript courtesy of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin our conversation today talking about the first recording that surfaced, the recording that started it all.


COOPER: When you first heard the audiotape that was released a couple of weeks ago, what did you think?

EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Well, I was just — I was blown away.

I was — I couldn’t believe that he had said those things, first of all, made those statements, those racist statements, and then, you know, threw me in, “Don’t bring him to my games.”

And so you personally attack me. And so — and I had known Donald, not very well. I knew him. I have met with him three or four times, been to his office.

COOPER: So, how — I mean, so you — so were you guys friends?


COOPER: You were acquaintances?

JOHNSON: I would say we were friends.

My first trip, when I got here in L.A. over 35 — about 35 years ago, Dr. Buss took me to his beach house for his annual beach house party in the summertime. So that was one of the first things that I did.

So, to reflect back to that, to these statements he made about myself and minorities, it was just disappointing. It was — I was in disbelief that he would say these things, and then, you know, to throw me into the situation.

I don’t know the young lady, barely know Donald. So now I’m caught in the middle of this love affair or whatever they have. And so it was sort of disappointing. But I had to respond in terms of, OK, you don’t want me to come to your games, I won’t come to your games. You don’t have to worry about that.

But, also, I was upset because he threw minorities in, African-Americans, Latinos, into this situation. And so I had to speak up.

Look, I’m one of the leaders of the black community, so I can’t let anybody attack our people and not respond. And so that is why I responded.

COOPER: When — first of all, you said you were photographed with V. Stiviano. You’re probably photographed with…

JOHNSON: Millions of people.

COOPER: Millions of people.

Do you know her? He claimed in this interview that I did with him the other day, he said you knew her, you knew her well.

JOHNSON: These are the facts, Anderson.

I never met this young lady. I took a picture with her, probably, it looked like at a Dodger game. That is it. That’s all I know of her. And then he says I’m trying to set him up.

How am I trying to set you up?

COOPER: Right.

One of the things he said in the interview — and, in fact, let me play that part, because he said to me that you called him up. He doesn’t have your number. He didn’t call you, that you called him up after the tape was released and told him to kind of lay low, don’t say anything public.

I want to play that.


COOPER: Magic Johnson, you know, has made a public comment. What — do you have something to say to him?

DONALD STERLING, OWNER, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: What could I say to him? He — it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter.

I’m hurt, but it doesn’t matter.

COOPER: You’re hurt that he — that he said — that he spoke out publicly?

STERLING: I’m hurt that he called me up and he said: “Don’t do anything. Wait until you hear from me.”

Then somebody called me later and said, he doesn’t want to be involved. And then he released the tape that I sent to him, that I talked to him in confidence.


JOHNSON: These are the facts. I was sitting in my office. I get a call from Donald Sterling.

COOPER: He called you?

JOHNSON: He called me. I took the call.

COOPER: Apparently, he has your phone number.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes. His assistant called my assistant. And she put him through.

And this is what happened. He asked me to go on the Barbara Walters show with him.

COOPER: This was, what, a week, week-and-a-half ago?

JOHNSON: This was a week ago.

COOPER: Because he met with Barbara on a Friday about week-and-a-half ago.

JOHNSON: Exactly. It was before that.

I told him I wouldn’t do it. I said, the number one thing you need to do, which you haven’t done, is apologize to everybody and myself. “I will get to that. I will get to that.”

COOPER: So, he wanted you to go on with Barbara Walters sitting next to him?

JOHNSON: Sitting next to him.

COOPER: To kind of give him cover or…

JOHNSON: Exactly.

So, I said no. Then I told him. I said, Donald, you should consult with your attorneys. I said, this thing is a big thing. And you should deal with your attorneys and let them advise you on what to do. But I said, you need to go public and apologize to everybody.

COOPER: How did he respond to that?

JOHNSON: “Well, I will apologize later. But I want you to go on this show.”

He was adamant about me going on the show with him. And I told him, no, I wouldn’t do it. And that’s what happened.

COOPER: That’s it?

JOHNSON: And then I called Adam Silver, our great commissioner, and told him what had happened.

COOPER: You told Adam Silver that Donald Sterling had called you?

JOHNSON: Had just called.

And so I wanted him to know that it happened, so he wouldn’t be blindsided either.

COOPER: Right.

JOHNSON: And so I — and then I called all my people to let them know Donald Sterling had just called me.

COOPER: There is a report that an attorney for you or somebody called his attorney and said, look, don’t keep calling Magic. Don’t call Magic back.

JOHNSON: Yes, because he wanted to call me again.

So, I — my people, my attorneys and advisers said, look, you can’t be talking to Donald. I said, OK. So that is what happened. So we just called his attorney and said don’t be personally calling me, because I didn’t want him to feel that he could just call me, because he had not apologized to me.

This is really weird. I’m really disturbed by the fact that, you know, he hadn’t — when he called me, he should have said, Magic, I’m sorry.

COOPER: Right. And I asked him specifically if he had apologized to you, and he said no.

JOHNSON: No. No, he didn’t apologize at all.

COOPER: It seemed like a surprise to him that he would actually be expected to make an apology to you.

JOHNSON: Well, he is the one who said, “Don’t bring Magic to my games.”

So he is the one who made these comments. So I was expecting at least an apology. And the American public wanted an apology. He finally did that.

But this is — it is sad. When I saw that interview, it is sad. It really is. I’m going to pray for this young man. I hope Donald can see the mistake that he has made, and also the people he has hurt along the way.

And then what is really sad, he — it is not about me. This is about the woman you love outing you and taping you and putting your — and putting your conversation out here for everybody to know.

That was not me. I didn’t do that. I don’t know this young lady. This is between you two. But then he wants to include me. And I’m not included in this situation. And then he wants to, you know, ask me what I have done in the minority community. That is well-documented, what I have done.


COOPER: And we’re going to talk about that in a moment.

Magic Johnson was gracious, I want to say, throughout our interview today, including during a part that was frankly very uncomfortable to bring up. I played for him Donald Sterling’s outrageous comments from when he and I spoke yesterday.


STERLING: Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?

COOPER: Well, he has — he’s a businessperson. He…

STERLING: He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? I would like — did he help anybody in South L.A.?


COOPER: Magic Johnson’s response to that coming up.


COOPER: Well, one of the, frankly, strangest parts of my interview with Donald Sterling was his attack on Magic Johnson as a role model, as somebody who has done a lot for his community, and his very misinformed rant about Johnson having AIDS.

For the record, Magic Johnson does not have AIDS. He is HIV-positive.

Today, Magic responded.


COOPER: Some of the things he said, two comments in particular that have really outraged a lot of people, understandably. I was shocked when I — when he said them to me.

Let me just play this.


STERLING: Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?

COOPER: Well, he has — he’s a businessperson. He…

STERLING: He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? I would like — did he help anybody in South L.A.?

COOPER: Well, I think he has HIV. He doesn’t actually have full- blown AIDS, but…

STERLING: Well, what kind of a guy goes to every city, he has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV and — 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.

Here is a man who is — I don’t know if I say this. He acts so holy. I mean, 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 hoped he could live and be well.

I didn’t criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children?


COOPER: I’m embarrassed to even play this in front of you.

JOHNSON: Yes, yes, yes.

Well, you know, here is a man who we would think would be educated and a man who would — is smart enough to build this type of wealth and own a team that has an incredible platform to change the world.

But he is doing it in a negative way. You know, first of all, 22 years ago, I announced that I did have HIV. And I came out like a man. You know, I told the world.


JOHNSON: Because of the HIV virus that I have obtained, I will have to retire from the Lakers today.


JOHNSON: I didn’t blame nobody else. I understood what I did was wrong, OK?

So I announced that to the world. And I hope that I was able to help people in doing that. And I think I did.

COOPER: You helped countless numbers of people.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.

And I have been to hospice. I have been to hospitals, hugging people with HIV and AIDS, you know, before they were dying or people who had — didn’t know if they could live a long time. I hugged them. I counseled them. I talked to them. I talked to them about taking their meds and not — making sure that they stay on their regimen, which is the key.

I talked to a lot of young people who just got HIV and was thinking about, you know, committing suicide, you see? And I tried to talk them out of that.

And we have given away over $15 million, my foundation. I have joined the president’s HIV and AIDS council. And I have done a lot of work in the HIV and AIDS community.

COOPER: The Magic Johnson Foundation has been around for 20 years. You have given away, I mean, millions and millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS education.


COOPER: You have expanded out to other education for people in under-served communities, community outreach.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

COOPER: The idea that you haven’t done the stuff, you don’t put ads in the paper about what you do, which is what — something Donald Sterling has done, but you do the work.

JOHNSON: Yes, I do the work.

And we work with great HIV and AIDS organizations across this country. We partner with them. So I don’t have to sit and publicize everything I do. It is not organic like that.

Look, it’s — it’s — it’s — I just feel sorry for him. I really do. It is sad.

COOPER: It is interesting to me that, A, he clearly doesn’t know the difference between AIDS and HIV, which is — you know, whatever. A lot of people probably don’t understand that difference.


COOPER: But also that, in this day and age, he would bring this up as somehow a — what he feels is like a club against you, to wield against you. And it — to me, there is a larger issue here of discrimination against people with HIV…

JOHNSON: Right. Right.

COOPER: … and attitudes towards people with HIV.

And I was reading studies on the way over here. You know, there are still — there is still this stigma about HIV in this country. And I think some of what he said really — it is like a teachable moment on this.

There are still people who believe you should not — you know, they don’t want somebody working into a kitchen who is serving them food who is HIV-positive.


COOPER: They don’t want somebody working in an office, going in the same bathroom as them. There is still this stigma around…

JOHNSON: Anderson, our biggest fight in the HIV and AIDS community, first, stop discriminating against people who have HIV and AIDS.

We have got to continue to educate people just like Donald Sterling about those who are living with HIV and AIDS. And then the last thing, we have got to continue to care for people who have it.

I hope this doesn’t set us back. The stigma is still there. We know that. We have been fighting it for years. And what we want to continue to do is just educate the world that it is OK that a person — you can high-five a person who has HIV. It is OK.


COOPER: You can play on a sports team with somebody.

JOHNSON: Exactly.

Your kid can go to school with somebody, a kid who has HIV. There is nothing is going to happen to you. Or play with them. Nothing is going to happen to meantime,.

So it is a shame that Donald used this platform with you to, instead of coming out apologizing to the world, which would have been great, and said, you know what, I’m sorry, I have made some mistakes, and just — and left it there — Magic Johnson should not have been included in your conversation, because I have nothing to do with this.

But since you have put me in it again, and then you want to try to disrespect me, of the work that I have done in the minority community, that really makes me upset. And then my competitive spirit comes out, because I have done all this great work, all the kids we have sent to college. And I have got 150 kids on scholarship right now.

COOPER: And I have heard — again, this is not something you publicize, but I was talking to people who know the work you have done.

They tell me a young man came up to you at a speech you gave and was talking about the difficulties he’s facing about going to college, and you on the spot were like, you know what? I’m going to pay for — I’m going to pay to put you through school.

You have given millions to open up churches in urban communities. And even — even your — and, again, you don’t — you don’t trump this — even your business work, not your foundation work, even your business work is devoted to largely under-served communities, urban communities, and bringing businesses in.

JOHNSON: That’s right.

COOPER: You were instrumental in bringing Starbucks and all these businesses and movie theaters into under-served communities.

JOHNSON: It was important that we have options that we can go and go have the best cup of coffee served by Starbucks.

But, also, it brought jobs. See, it brings jobs. We — we have created thousands and thousands of jobs in urban America. Those people can now walk to their job. They can take care of their families because of Starbucks, 24 Hour Fitness, on and on and on, the Magic Johnson Theatres.

So I have continued to do good work in urban America. And I will always do that. I’m devoted. My whole life is devoted to urban America. So, you know, I just wish he knew the facts when he is talking. But he is a man who is upset, and he is reaching. He is reaching. He is trying to find something that he can grab onto to help him save his team.

And it is not going to happen. It is not going to happen.


COOPER: Well, beyond the factually incorrect assertions that Donald Sterling made about Magic Johnson’s track record of helping other people, what is strange is the animosity that Sterling seems to have against him, which seems largely misplaced.

This is a fact that is not lost on Magic Johnson — more of my exclusive interview next.


JOHNSON: He needs to address this young lady, because that is the problem. That is where the problem started, not with Magic Johnson. It started with his girlfriend.



COOPER: When I spoke with Donald Sterling, he maintained that he is a good team owner for the L.A. Clippers and that other owners support him.

He seemed to be clinging to the idea that somehow he can maintain ownership of the L.A. Clippers and said that the players actually love him. That is what he said. He said his own players on the L.A. Clippers love him still.

When I brought up the fact that the players turned their jerseys inside out in protest of the statements that he made, Sterling said, essentially, that, if one did it, the others had to do it, that they weren’t going to walk off team.

Listen — listen to this.


STERLING: We all have to earn a living. We all have bills. We may work for an employer we don’t love. I contend that they love me.

COOPER: You think they still love you?

STERLING: I do. I do.

COOPER: You believe the players of the Los Angeles Clippers…

STERLING: Absolutely. They know I’m not a racist.

And I’m not a racist.

COOPER: Why haven’t they come forward and said that?

STERLING: Well, you see, people are intimidated by even the thought of racism.

And around the world, and this — they call me from Australia, or from London, and they ask me, different media, are you a racist? I’m not a racist.


COOPER: Well, despite what Sterling may think, the NBA is moving forward with its plan to oust him.

I asked Magic Johnson if he thinks the league is doing a good job on that. And then the talk turned to V. Stiviano and Sterling’s riff about African-Americans not actually helping each other.


JOHNSON: Adam Silver, our commissioner of the NBA, did a wonderful job, of banning him for life.

Now the Board of Governors got to do their job. And, again, I’m going to pray for the man, because, even if I see him today, I’m going to say hello to — 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. I’m going to pray for him and hope that things work out for him. And he needs to address this young lady, because that is the problem. That is where the problem started, not with Magic Johnson. It started with his girlfriend.

COOPER: I want to play one other thing he said that has gotten a lot of attention here.


STERLING: I remember when he came from Detroit. He came to my house. You know, he was a great player, great player. But what — I would like to know exactly what he’s — what does he do? He works with the Dodgers.

COOPER: Well, he’s got a business. He owns movie theaters.

STERLING: Do you know what I do? I spend millions on giving away and helping minorities.

Does he do that? That’s one problem I have. Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people. And some of the African-Americans — maybe I will get in trouble again — they don’t want to help anybody.

What has Magic Johnson really done for children’s hospital, which kids are lying in the hallways? They are sick. They need a bed.


COOPER: This larger idea that he has that African-Americans somehow don’t help other African-Americans?

JOHNSON: You know, it’s — it’s disturbing. It is sad. It is — he didn’t do his homework.

Tyler Perry called me right after the interview. He was so upset. Spike Lee called me. I mean, look, we help each other, you know, and we — and what we try to do is band together to see how we can better our community. We also give the information, because I’m successful, Tyler is successful, on and on, on and on.

We go back and educate the others on how they can become successful. So, it is not about just giving them money. It is about giving them the tools so that they can be successful in the African-American community.

We work very well together. Reverend Sharpton — you have different people who always work together to make it better for the others. And that is what we do. And so it is a shame that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. He is not — he didn’t educate himself before he actually came on and talked to you.

COOPER: Is this the Donald Sterling you know?

I mean, you only have talked to him a couple times. You only hung out with him a couple times. But his wife has indicated in an interview with Barbara Walters that perhaps he has sort of early-onset dementia. Does this seem like the Donald Sterling you talked to in the past, obviously, without him saying these things about you to your face?

JOHNSON: I didn’t — I don’t know this Donald.

You know, we had basketball conversations. We never had life conversations. I knew — I knew about the lawsuits and things that happened before. I didn’t know that he would take it to this level. And…

COOPER: Do you believe that he is slipping, that he has some sort of dementia? Or do you think — I mean, to me, I don’t — I’m not a doctor. I wouldn’t do an interview with someone I felt was not up to doing an interview.

He certainly seemed lucid enough for that. He certainly remembered things he was saying, remembered train of thoughts, brought it back to conversation when he wanted to.


COOPER: Does he seem much different than — than — beyond the content of what he is saying, just the way he is speaking and stuff?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, I only judge by what he says.

And so he seems like he is all there. And in your interview, he is a guy who is making conversation. And — and he remembers time, dates. I mean, he remembered when I came to his beach house. And that was 35 years ago. So he can’t be slipping that much.

But the problem is, he is living in the Stone Ages. He can’t make those comments about African-Americans or Latinos. He just can’t do it.

COOPER: Spike Lee last night was saying to me, he has messed with the wrong brother.


JOHNSON: Well, you know, Anderson, I’m going to always fight for myself and for my people. I will never change.

And so, when he attacked me personally, I have to speak out about it.


COOPER: Well, Magic Johnson has a lot more to say tonight.

Donald Sterling insists that the players still love him — you heard him say that — the fans don’t hate him, Donald Sterling says, and that it is the media that is out to get him. This is all about the media for Donald Sterling.

Ahead, we’re going to continue my conversation with Magic Johnson, who says that Sterling is being delusional on that.


JOHNSON: Here we are in the league that is over 80 percent — or at least 75 percent African-Americans. He wants us to play for him, but he doesn’t want us in the stands. He wants us to help him win a championship, but he doesn’t want us in the stands.



COOPER: Well, we have heard Magic Johnson say tonight that he is going to pray for Donald Sterling and that he doesn’t hold a grudge against the Clippers owner, despite the fact that Johnson is the man referred to in the now infamous recording.

Here it is.


STERLING: I think it’s nice that you admire him. I have known him well and he should be admired.

And I’m just saying that it’s too bad you can’t admire him privately and during your entire (EXPLETIVE DELETED) life, your whole life, admire him, bring him here, feed him, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) him. I don’t care. You can do anything.

But don’t put him on Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games, OK?


COOPER: And just wanted — I wanted to replay that, sort of the ugliness of that, because I think it’s a — it is powerful, especially when juxtaposed against the grace of Magic Johnson in his comments and in the way that he’s responding to some of the ugliness that Donald Sterling unleashed last night.

In this next part of my exclusive interview with Magic Johnson, we talk about Sterling’s ugly words. We also talk about ownership of the Clippers, about the possibility that Donald Sterling’s estranged wife may try to maintain control.

And I even asked him if he really wants to buy the team, because, remember, that was one of Donald Sterling’s allegations, that Magic Johnson had called him up, told him to remain silent, so that he could secretly kind of take, steal the Clippers away from Donald Sterling, all of which, obviously, Magic Johnson denies.

Johnson was blunt about Sterling’s belief that the players also still support him.


JOHNSON: Here we are in the league that is over 80 percent — or at least 75 percent African-Americans. He wants us to play for him, but he doesn’t want us in the stands. He wants us to help him win a championship, but he doesn’t want us in the stands.

And the same thing happened with — in his housing. He wanted to discriminate against Latinos and African-Americans. It makes no sense.

And so I think for him, I just wish that he would — first of all, I don’t know who is advising him, because this — this interview was not good.

COOPER: Yes. And I told you before we went on we got to his house. He doesn’t have any media people there. There were no attorneys there.

It seemed very much to be him. There were two of his friends there giving him advice. But that was it.


And, again, and he said, I walk around like I’m holy. No. No, I lean on my faith, but I’m not — I don’t walk around like I’m better than anybody. That is why I’m basically forgiving him. I’m not — I’m not going to never not speak to him or anything.

And then we think it is about this team. Anderson, look…

COOPER: He claims the Clippers still love him. He claims the players — he says he believes the players genuinely love him, and they have just been pressured by the media and others.

JOHNSON: Really? Hmm.

Now he is delusional. And not only the Clippers don’t love him. The other players in the NBA don’t love him. So, the players have rallied together. Now, the only thing they’re waiting for is to see what is going to happen with the vote and the Board of Governors.

COOPER: By the other owners.

JOHNSON: By the other owners.

And I’m hoping that they understand we can’t have this type of action in our league or in our society. We just can’t have it.

COOPER: Sterling claims that, push comes to shove, he can kind of bide time. Push comes to shove, the players are going to play, the sponsors are going to sponsor his team, even if he stays there, that money talks, that, in the end, they have got contracts, sponsors want to make money, everybody wants to make money.

He clearly believes there is a route for him to remain as owner of the L.A. Clippers.

JOHNSON: He can’t buy his way out of this one. He has bought his way out of all the other situations. Can’t do it this time.

COOPER: Do you think that goes for his estranged wife, Shelly, as well? I mean, right now, it is a trust that owns — that owns the Clippers.

JOHNSON: I don’t know his wife, Shelly, that well.

So our commissioner, Adam Silver, has to deal with that, as well as the Board of Governors. So I can’t tell you what is going to happen there.

All I know is that Donald Sterling is not welcome back in the NBA by the — he should not be welcomed by the owners. I hope they vote it right. But the players, former players and the fans — I was there the other night at the Clipper game — don’t want to see Donald Sterling as the owner anymore.

Now, what he thinks and what he feels, he is in another world if he thinks that everybody wants to see him back owning the Clippers.

COOPER: You know, he was saying that there’s a $3 billion TV deal on his desk with FOX that he can negotiate, that there is money to be made, and he is the guy to do it.

JOHNSON: Well, I think he is right.

No question about that there is money to be made. And let’s…


COOPER: Are you interested in the Clippers? I mean, there’s a lot of reports that you would be interested in being owner or part owner.

JOHNSON: Well, you know, we have to wait. That’s going to be eight months to a year to see if it ever hits the market.

But, for me, if it comes out, and it’s for sale, and my Guggenheim Partners and I say, OK, we want to take a look at it and we want to buy it, of course we will make a run for it.

I could be an owner tomorrow. I could have been an owner. My friends who own Golden State asked me to join them. I could have been the owner of the Golden State Warriors. My Tom Gores owns the Detroit Pistons. I could be an owner tomorrow with the Pistons, right? He asked me to come be a part owner of the Detroit Pistons.

It is not about owning a team. Now, what I want — really would want to do is own the Lakers. If any team I want to really have or be a part of would be the Lakers, not the Clippers.

But, if I can’t be a part of them, and there is a team out there like the Clippers that I like and my partners like, because you have got to remember this is going to be a billion-dollar deal, so I have to include the Guggenheim, Mark Walter and Todd…


COOPER: You can’t just write a check.

JOHNSON: Exactly. They’re going to be a part of that.

So, we have to wait and see. But this notion that I want his team? If I was going to trick somebody, deceive somebody, be dishonest to somebody, steal somebody’s franchise, it is going to be the Los Angeles Lakers.


JOHNSON: Let’s make that clear right now.


COOPER: You’re putting that on the record?


JOHNSON: It won’t be the L.A. Clippers.

Look, I’m a respectable guy. I’m a guy who has worked hard to put myself in this position. I am not going to do anything bad to ruin that. I can’t look my kids in the face and say, hey, I’m a thief. I’m a guy who backstabs people to get to where they want to get to. I don’t do that.

You go and ask Howard Schultz of Starbucks, you go and ask all my partners, you go and ask the African-American community, the Latino community. All the work I have done, I never deceived anybody. I never tricked anybody. And I would never do that to gain wealth for myself or popularity for myself or whatever the case may be.

COOPER: Do you think — obviously, you don’t know what is going to happen. Do you think it would be appropriate for any member of the Sterling family to retain some level of ownership?

JOHNSON: I think the players, the fans, the sponsors wouldn’t go for it. That is what I feel today.

Now, if the Board of Governors decides that they’re going to vote him out, and one of the Sterling family members can take it over, so be it. Now the Clipper players and Doc Rivers have got to make a decision, as well as the players in the NBA, and Adam Silver has to make a decision.

COOPER: When that tape initially broke, you tweeted out that you and your wife, Cookie, would not go to a Clippers game as long as Sterling was the owner.

You went the other night. Why do you feel it was important to go?

JOHNSON: I wanted to support Doc Rivers, the coach of the Clippers, and Chris Paul and the rest, Blake Griffin and the rest of the players.

And I wanted to show that Adam Silver, our great commissioner, has stepped up and banned him for life, did a wonderful job. And I wanted to support that decision as well. And so that is why I went to the game. And I’m happy I did. I saw a great game.

COOPER: It was a good game.


And then, Anderson, this is what is so bad about this. LeBron James scored 49 points last night. We should be celebrating that. The Clippers and Oklahoma City is in a great series. We should be celebrating that.

These playoffs have been the best playoffs we have seen in the first round in 30, 35 years. We should be celebrating that, the NBA. Right now, we can’t celebrate that because of the fact of what Donald Sterling is doing.


COOPER: Well, up next, I ask Magic Johnson if he has any advice for Donald Sterling. He does, quite a lot, as a matter of fact.


JOHNSON: If I was him, I would just, you know, benefit from the fruits of my labor and just take the money, go and enjoy your life.



COOPER: Well, the L.A. Clippers battle Oklahoma City tonight in game five of the playoffs.

Magic Johnson has nothing but praise for the team and the coach, Doc Rivers, and he offered his support to NBA commissioner Silver.

Then the conversation turned back to Donald Sterling and the charges of racism that have been leveled at him in the past by NBA great Elgin Baylor.


COOPER: Last night, Adam Silver, as you know, responded to interview with Donald Sterling.

He: “I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him” — talking about Magic, to you — “as 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 the process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible.”

Do you think — do you think they’re moving fast enough?

JOHNSON: Oh, yes, yes.

It — it is tough right now, because you got a lot of those owners are in the playoffs trying to win a championship, you know, and so to get everybody together to get a vote — and, also, they all got schedules.

But I think that Adam is doing a wonderful job of rallying everybody. They will get the vote soon. Look, there is no rush. Let’s get it right.

I thought that Adam Silver, our commissioner, got it right. He took his time, got all the facts, and then banned Donald for life. Same thing has to happen here. Just get it right. Get everybody together and do a good job. And that is all — all everybody wants. And so I’m happy the way it is proceeding.

COOPER: You know, I was thinking about — I mean, Doc Rivers, the players have got to be in a really tough position. It has got to be really hard for them to be in these playoffs and dealing with this at the same time.


It — I feel so bad for Doc. Doc Rivers has done — he has done a wonderful job of rallying all those guys and making them focus on — first, it was Golden State, when they beat them, and now with Oklahoma City. And then give Chris Paul a lot of credit. He is the leader, not only of the Clippers, but also the Players Association. He is the president, I believe.

And so he has done a wonderful job of making sure that his Clippers stay focused, and actually did a wonderful job on Kevin Durant the other night, too, as well. So, I think the guys understand that they have got a job to do.

Look, they are going after something that they have been wanting to do their whole life as little boys, win an NBA championship. So I’m glad that they’re still focused on that. Let Adam Silver, the NBA, the Board of Governors handle Donald. You guys focus on playing.

COOPER: Do you have any advice to Donald Sterling? I mean, what would you say to him?

JOHNSON: I would say — he has finally apologized, but he still has not apologized to me personally. But that’s OK. Even if I don’t get it, I’m fine with that.

I would just — look, you — you’re 80 years old. You have had a tremendous life. Right? And you’re going to benefit whatever the price tag is from this team selling. Just go ahead and enjoy the rest of your life.

You know, you’re fighting a battle that you can’t win. And then you’re — you’re putting your family in a tough situation as well. It is not just him. He is making his family members look bad by going out, saying these things about myself, African-Americans, on and on.

So, if I was him, I would just, you know, benefit from the fruits of my labor and just take the money, go and enjoy your life.

COOPER: Maybe give some of that money to some folks who need it.

JOHNSON: Well, I would say give it to some — especially in the inner cities that could use it, that could benefit from it.

But, at this point, I don’t know if they will even take it, because they have been — you can’t upset minorities today, and then expect to buy them off or to write a check, and they’re going to accept it. It doesn’t happen today.

COOPER: You know, Elgin Baylor had said that he sued Sterling back in 2009, alleging racial discrimination and age discrimination.

He said a lot of things back then, and a lot of people didn’t really support him.

JOHNSON: Yes, exactly. He — you are exactly right. And now we all feel bad that we didn’t support him, because we should have. And everything that he said is coming to light today.

COOPER: Yes, I think, even in 2009, the year he was suing him, the NAACP in L.A. gave Sterling an award.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes. Yes.

And it has been — I hope that Elgin feels a lot better today. And I know he doesn’t, but I hope that now we — he will get some justice. He — the things that he had to go through, hopefully, nobody else will have to go through, even including myself.

Here I am sitting here. I’m doing this interview with you, which I don’t mind, because you do a wonderful job. I should be conducting my business. I should be going on with my day. And here I am, got to answer questions about Donald Sterling.

COOPER: Finally, that gets to my last question, which is, I think you tweeted out late last night this is a week we should be focused on the games; this is the last week we should be talking about Donald Sterling.

Are you going to stick to that?

JOHNSON: That is it. That is it.

I’m going to do one more interview, and that’s it. I’m not going to do any more. I’m tired. I’m tired of talking about Donald. I’m — it is a shame. I wish I had did something to deserve this, right? Taking a photo with a young lady, and then I have to answer all these questions.

But that is OK. I’m going to pray for him. I’m a God-fearing man. I’m going to pray for Donald and his family. And I just hope the Board of Governors do what they’re supposed to do, and I can get my life back and go back to just being Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Oh, let me correct, Donald. What does he do? He owns the Dodgers. He doesn’t work for the Dodgers. He owns the Dodgers. So…


COOPER: We will leave it with that.



COOPER: He owns the Dodgers, doesn’t work for them.