According to Magic Johnson, who was a major part of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s private racist remarks, if Shelly Sterling, Sterling’s wife, keeps her 50% of the team in the event that Sterling sells his half, the team will refuse to play for her.
Johnson told USA Today‘s Eric Prisbell, “Those guys are not going to play for anybody [with the name] Sterling. It’s just how it is. It’s hard to separate the two….It’s going to be hard for them to sell that to the fans and definitely to the players.”
If Sterling sells the team, Johnson may be a prospective owner, according to rumors. After Sterling’s comments went public, the Clipper players wore their warmup jerseys inside out to protest and sponsors pulled their support from the team.
Johnson asserted that the issue went deeper than Sterling’s racist comments; he said that both Sterlings have been accused of racism in their real-estate business:
When they accused them of [being] slumlords, that was both. It wasn’t one person. It was both of them….They will never recover from this. All the sponsors pulling out, they will pull out for good if she is owning it. It’s not going to be the same.”
Johnson also commented ion the rumors that he might buy the team, saying:
First of all, we have to all remember that that is a long way away. The board of governors first has to vote him out. Donald Sterling is going to fight it. You know that. It is going to be a long time. I have other things to do before I just say my level of interest. The team has to be up for sale. And I think that is going to be eight months to a year. Once it’s official, that it’s really up for sale, we’ll take a look at it.
Sterling sounds as if he has no intention of selling the team, saying, “You can’t force someone to sell property in America. I’m a lawyer, that’s my opinion.”