Garcetti says Sterling's remarks on Magic Johnson 'offensive' to city

Garcetti says Sterling's remarks on Magic Johnson 'offensive' to city
Magic Johnson, left, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Mayor Eric Garcetti, right, talk during a Clippers playoff game. (Michael Nelson / EPA)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti rose to the defense of Magic Johnson again Tuesday, criticizing Clippers owner Donald Sterling for remarks he made about the former Lakers basketball great in a television interview.

After Sterling said Johnson doesn't help black people and isn't a good role model for the kids of Los Angeles in part because he became infected with HIV, Garcetti called the comments "offensive to the city, to Magic Johnson and to the work that people do.


"Everybody has hardships they overcome," Garcetti said. "People have challenges in life and he [Johnson] embodies that. This is the city of second chances."

Garcetti's comments came after the announcement of a new summer education program launched by the city and school district. Even during that news conference, he made a brief reference to the Sterling controversy.

"This was going to be a press conference in which I didn't talk about the Clippers, but let me just say one thing: We've been hearing a lot about one team in this town. We might root for different teams, but we're all behind the Clippers now. When it comes to our children in education we're absolutely one team."

In a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper that aired Monday night, Sterling apologized for earlier remarks about race that caused him to be banned for life by the NBA. But he then went on to criticize Johnson, who had been photographed with V. Stiviano, a frequent courtside companion of Sterling's.

"What does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything," Sterling said in the interview.

"What kind of guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then catches" HIV?

"I think he should be ashamed of himself," Sterling said.

Talking to reporters Tuesday morning, Garcetti called Johnson a "major contributor to this city" and said that in addition to being a great basketball player, he's helped people overcome social challenges.

"To me, he represents the best of L.A.," said the mayor. "To hear him bad mouthed -- I can't think, in many ways, of a better person to inspire youth in this city than Magic Johnson."

Garcetti, who held a news conference last month to speak out against Sterling's initial comments, went on to say that he thinks Clippers team needs new ownership.

"This is about Los Angeles. It doesn't represent the values of this city. I stand firm with the NBA that this team must change hands.

"I, as mayor, certainly want to see a team that bears Los Angeles on its jersey feel like Los Angeles, and while he's owner, it certainly doesn't."

In response to a reporter's questions about Sterling's wife, Shelly, saying the NBA was sexist to punish her for her husband's remarks, Garcetti simply said: "I think the Sterlings need to be gone from this team period."

In addition to being banned for life from the NBA, Sterling, 80, was fined $2.5 million after his comments. Dick Parsons, former chairman of Citigroup and Time Warner, is overseeing the Clippers.