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NBA: Magic Johnson says no Sterling should own Clippers

May 12, 2014 11:52am

LOS ANGELES - Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson Sunday reiterated his belief that the NBA must oust embattled Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and said players won't play for Sterling's wife, Shelly, either.

Johnson is a beloved figure in Los Angeles after leading the Lakers to five NBA titles before his retirement in 1991 after announcing he was HIV-positive.

He made brief comebacks, one as coach of the Lakers, before becoming a successful businessman, and in 2012 led a group that purchased baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers for $2.15 billion.

He has applauded NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's move to ban 80-year-old Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million over racist remarks, which were made in a private conversation but later made public.

NBA owners are now proceeding with plans to strip Sterling of his ownership, a move that could end with Sterling selling the team or instigating a court battle to keep it.

In another complication, Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, has said she wants to maintain an ownership stake in the club.

Johnson, attending the Clippers' home playoff game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, was asked by an ABC television interviewer if Shelly Sterling was a viable owner.

"First the fans wouldn't like it," Johnson said. "The players definitely wouldn't like it, everybody would boycott.

"And then the sponsors have already made themselves clear that they wouldn't be sponsoring this team if either Sterling stayed on as an owner."

Johnson, whose photo with Sterling's girlfriend in part prompted the owners' tirade, had said he wouldn't attend a Clippers game while Sterling was still the owner.

However, after Silver's tough action he relaxed his stance.

On Friday (Saturday, PHL time), the NBA named Richard Parsons, the former chairman of media giant Time Warner and Citigroup, as interim chief executive of the Clippers.

But the process of stripping Sterling of the club and forcing a sale will be lengthy — even if Sterling doesn't challenge it as he is widely expected to do.

So while Johnson has already been mentioned as a potential buyer for the club, which could sell for upwards of $600 million, he said it was too soon to discuss that possibility.

"I would definitely take a look at it because I am a business man," he said. "But we here in Los Angeles, whether it's myself or somebody else, we just want an owner who will include everybody, who will understand diversity and not include all races of people."

Johnson praised Clippers players and coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers for their poise during the scandal, which blew up in the midst of their NBA first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors.

"We've got to give coach Rivers a lot of credit and then the Clippers players, their leader Chris Paul, for rallying together and first ousting the Golden State Warriors and then playing a good physical series here today," he said. - AFP

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