Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling appeared on Anderson Cooper’s CNN show Monday, May 12 to apologize for the racist comments that earned him a lifetime ban from the league. Before I watched the show I wondered if people weren’t over reacting to the tape recording of remarks he made to his then girlfriend V Stiviano. The remarks were hateful and I am not excusing them but they were made during a private conversation recorded by a woman who was trying to extort money from him. However, now that I have watched Sterling’s so called apology I have no doubt what his true feelings and beliefs about minorities are and I’m appalled. After making his so called apology Sterling goes onto attack Magic Johnson for having HIV and not giving enough back to his community. These comments not only made showed Sterling’s racism but his ignorance, it is clear Sterling has no real knowledge of Magic’s story or of the works of his foundation. If anyone still thinks Sterling is not an arrogant racist who has no consideration for others they have not listened to him.
Sterling’s apologizes by saying, “When I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I can say words like that…I don’t know why the girl had me say those things. I mean, that’s not the way I talk. I don’t talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things. I don’t talk about people.” Sterling never uses the word sorry, this apology is more a justification of what he said than an apology. He never accepts responsibility for his words blaming Stiviano for tricking him into making the comments. He never bothers to apologize to his team or anyone for the hurt he caused with his remarks. This so called apology is all about him and is not a real apology.
The interview gets more disturbing when Sterling apologizes to Magic Johnson then immediately attacks him for having HIV, “If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry. He’s a good person. I mean, what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can to help minorities? I don’t think so… But I don’t think he’s a good example for the children of Los Angeles. What kind of 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.” Sterling is dead wrong here, Magic has done plenty for both HIV awareness and his community. In 1991 when Magic publicly announced he had the virus it was primarily viewed as a gay disease contracted by white men. However, with Magic’s admission it showed everyone no matter their sexual orientation or race was at risk resulting in a more open discussion about the effects and spread of the virus. When Johnson returned to the NBA the league developed protocols for treating minor injuries on the court quickly and effectively so players would not be exposed to HIV or any other infectious disease. Johnson continues his fight to educate people about the virus through the Magic Johnson Foundation. The foundation does more than educate people, it helps people in struggling communities throughout the US and the world, so much for Sterling stating Johnson does nothing for his community.
In the end Sterling’s comments should not be a surprise. This is a man who used to bring women into the Clippers locker room while the players were showering and say, “Look at those beautiful black bodies.” He continued to do this even after the players asked him to stop. This clearly shows a man who thinks he’s better than minorities and thinks he can treat them anyway he we wishes, especially if they work for him. The south used to have a lot of people like this they were called slave owners. There is little doubt that Sterling doesn’t understand the consequences of his words, he told Cooper the other NBA owners support him and the players want to play for him. The owners are in the process of forcing him to sell the team and the players were ready to boycott a playoff game rather than play for Sterling.
No one was satisfied by Sterling’s so called apology. Even the coach of the Clippers Doc Rivers said it didn’t sound like much of an apology to him. If people in his own organization can’t support him what’s the public supposed to think. If you want a person like Sterling to show his true colors let him talk and dig his own hole. Sterling did a wonderful job of that in spite of the fact he was supposed to be apologizing. Now why doesn’t he take his advice to Johnson and “go into the background” so we don’t have to hear from him anymore, this ignorant bigot does not deserve this much attention.