CHICAGO (AP) – Magic Johnson joked about his involvement in the controversy surrounding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Sunday while delivering the keynote address at the National Restaurant Association Show.
Johnson’s remarks focused on his restaurant and food services businesses, but he did briefly mention the Sterling situation at the start of his 50-minute talk.
“These last two weeks, I don’t know,” he said. “I thought I should go back to the food service industry because these last two weeks have been unbelievable.
“But I’m glad to be here and even with that said, I still have a big smile on my face.”
Johnson, the NBA Hall of Famer turned entrepreneur, was thrust into the news because part of Sterling’s racist rant on the audio released by TMZ last month focused on him. Sterling complained that his female friend, V. Stiviano, had posed for a picture with Johnson and posted it on Instagram.
Within days of the tape being released, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Sterling was banned from the league for life and he was fined $2.5 million. Silver also announced he would ask the other NBA owners to force Sterling to sell.
Sterling made no public comments for a week before agreeing to do a lengthy sit-down interview with CNN. He apologized during the interview, but then veered into an attack of Johnson, saying he wasn’t a good role model for the children of Los Angeles because he was promiscuous and developed HIV. Sterling also questioned what Johnson has done for minorities.
“Man, I didn’t know that taking a picture with someone would mean .” Johnson said Sunday.
“I’m not going to stop taking pictures, so I just hope it doesn’t happen anymore. But there’s no room in our society for racism.”
That was all Johnson had to say about the matter during his talk. He didn’t stop to take questions from reporters after the event and none of the questions asked by the audience during the address concerned his controversy or his possible interest in buying the Clippers.