Apparently Donald Sterling never learned the lesson: when you're in a hole, it's best to stop digging.
After a blessed two-week silence since his racist rant was leaked to TMZ, Sterling gave a rambling interview to CNN's Anderson Cooper, where he profusely apologized but also doused kerosene on the proverbial fire, saying that Magic Johnson is a bad example for the youth of L.A.
"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. "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."
The interview did nothing to improve Sterling's public image. After all, Johnson is one of the most popular and well-liked people in Los Angeles. But Michael McCann, a Massachusetts attorney and the founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire School of Law, writes for Sports Illustrated that by appearing so erratic, Sterling could have actually helped his cause;
While these responses may reveal a man who makes sweeping generalizations about groups of people -- especially African-Americans and Jewish people—they may also signal a man who no longer processes information as effectively as he once did. Along those lines, would some owners feel uncomfortable ousting an elderly owner whose mind may not be what it was? Would they feel even more unease if Sterling is diagnosed by a physician with an actual cognitive impairment? Remember, a supermajority of NBA owners -- 22 out of 29 -- will be needed to oust Sterling. If Sterling, the longest serving owner, can find eight sympathetic colleagues, he won't be kicked out of the league.
Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, said Tuesday she thinks her husband suffers from dementia.
Whatever their private reservations about wanting to remove a fellow owner of debatable mental status out of the league based on a recording of a private conversation, it still seems unlikely that any of the 29 owners would actually want to vote on the side of Sterling; They would risk a walkout from players and a boycott from sponsors.
Sacramento Kings majority owner Vivek Ranadive is among those who expect the vote to be unanimous, when it takes place within ten days of Sterling formally receiving the NBA's charges and having a chance to respond to them.
Magic Johnson responded to Sterling's comments on Twitter:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>I'd rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview.</p>— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) <a href="https://twitter.com/MagicJohnson/statuses/466050776914477057">May 13, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
For all that Johnson has had to go through the past weeks, he may get something far better than a sincere apology from Sterling, according to Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski;
For all the apologies the NBA wants to give Magic Johnson, many within the league believe they know how Silver and the owners will ultimately make this right: awarding Magic and his ownership group's bid the franchise.
The league can transform a pariah brand name into a magnificent monolith. Magic's partners with the Los Angeles Dodgers are motivated to meet the billion-dollar-plus asking price, and perhaps go even higher.
Beyond Sterling's general ignorance and insanity, Johnson's desire to purchase the Clippers is partly Sterling's motivation to keep assailing him. Privately, he believes the endgame for the NBA will be to make him sell to Magic, that the fix is in.
Johnson has made no secret about wanting to buy the Clippers, but he faces lots of competition from a who's who of celebrity buyers.
Meanwhile, Sterling's estranged wife Shelly Sterling has been on her own media tour, speaking to Barbara Walters, The New York Times, and The Today Show, saying that she should be punished for the actions of her husband.
While the Sterlings continue to talk about how much the players love them and how much they the love the team, it's clear that by doing all these interviews right when the Clippers are battling in the Western Conference semifinals with Oklahoma City, the Sterlings actually care more about themselves, writes ESPN's J.A. Adande;
Donald and Shelly Sterling are showing that they don’t care about the Los Angeles Clippers, they care about owning the Los Angeles Clippers.
They want the status that comes with being in that select circle of professional sports owners, especially now that there’s the bonus of the Clippers being legitimate contenders. But at this point they’re distracting from the Clippers’ playoff push, not contributing to it. If the Sterlings cared about the best interests of the team, they wouldn’t have spent Sunday sitting down for interviews on the same day the players faced their biggest test of the season to date.