Magic Johnson will pray for Donald Sterling, he said Tuesday, a day after the embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner made derogatory remarks about him in a televised interview. Sterling had said the NBA legend "should be ashamed of himself."
"I'm not a guy who holds grudges and all that. Yes, am I upset? Of course!" Johnson told CNN's Anderson Cooper, in an interview that aired Tuesday night. "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.”
But the former Lakers star also said that Sterling is "living in the Stone Ages" and was persona non grata in the league, despite what the 80-year-old claimed about his continued popularity with players and fans on Monday.
"Donald Sterling is not welcome back in the NBA," Johnson said hours after NBA owners met for the third time to discuss ousting Sterling as the team's owner. "He's in another world if he thinks that everyody wants to see him back owning the Clippers."
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Sterling had told Cooper on Monday, in his first interview since the NBA banned him for his taped racist comments, that Johnson is not a good role model and has done nothing for black people.
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"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?" Sterling asked, saying Johnson "should be ashamed" of being HIV-positive.
Johnson called those comments a "sad" reflection of how entrenched discrimination against people on the basis of their HIV status remains.
"I hope this doesn't set us back. The stigma's still there. We know that. We've been fighting it for years," he told Cooper.
The former Laker also slammed Sterling's claim that he "doesn't do anything" for black communities.
"My whole life is devoted to urban America," Johnson said, pointing to his philanthropic work for urban and minority youth and for patients with HIV/AIDS, notably through his Magic Johnson Foundation.
"I just wish he knew the facts," he added. "But he's upset, and he's reaching. He's trying to find something he can grab onto to help him save his team, and it's not gonna happen. It's not gonna happen."
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Other NBA owners, moving ahead with a plan to force Sterling to sell the Clippers, held their third meeting on the issue Tuesday via conference call and reviewed the status of the formal charge for terminating his ownership, league spokesman Mike Bass told the Associated Press.
They discussed Sterling's own Monday interview on CNN, as well as his estranged wife's media comments that she wants to keep her share of the team even if he must sell his. The NBA has said that isn't possible.
In the recorded phone conversation that first sparked the Sterling scandal, published last month by TMZ Sports, Sterling can be heard criticizing girlfriend V. Stiviano for posting online about bringing black friends to Clippers games. He is also heard chastising her for posting a photo on Instagram with Johnson.
Silver banned Sterling, fined him $2.5 million and urged owners to force him to sell the team.
In his interview Tuesday, Johnson summed up his advice for the 80-year-old: Just sell the team already.
"You're fighting a battle that you can't win," he said. "Take the money, go and enjoy the rest of your life."
--Additional reporting by Will Avila