Agent: Magic Johnson the ‘opposite’ of what Donald Sterling said

Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, said in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper that aired Monday that he didn't think Lakers great Magic Johnson is "a good example for the children of Los Angeles."
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times; Robyn Beck / Getty Images)

The longtime agent and friend of Magic Johnson responded quickly to defend Johnson after Donald Sterling’s incendiary comments Monday on CNN.

Johnson is “the exact opposite” of the way Sterling portrayed him on “Anderson Cooper: 360,” said Lon Rosen, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I’ve known Earvin since 1979 and his whole mission in life has been to create business opportunities in urban America and to be charitable,” Rosen told The Times on Monday. “He has literally donated tens of millions of dollars of his own money to organizations and individuals forever and ever and ever.

“In 1986, he decided to create the United Negro College Fund summer basketball game. He did this while he was a player. He raised millions and millions of dollars. He did this on his own for years.

“He has opened up movie theaters in urban markets across America. He had 124 Starbucks in urban cities across the country. His business model has revitalized urban America and he continues to do it.”


Rosen relayed a story in which he went with Johnson in 1990 to visit a school in Mississippi that benefited from the UNCF summer game.

“When he was there, he noticed there was a raffle to raise money because they wanted to rebuild a track. He asked how much it was and they said $150,000,” Rosen said. “He pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check on the spot.

“And by the way, he’s done this at so many of these events. And he doesn’t want press on it.”

There are 150 students on college scholarships via Johnson’s foundation, Rosen said. Johnson has also donated $5 million to the West Angeles church.

Sterling was banned for life by the NBA two weeks ago for comments he made about blacks. In that audio recording, he derisively asked a female friend why she posted a photo of Johnson on Instagram.

Sterling was not apologetic Monday on CNN.

“What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?” he asked Cooper. “He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business, did he help anybody in South 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? 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.”

Rosen clarified that Johnson is HIV-positive but does not have AIDS, and declined further comment.