Doc Rivers: Not much of an apology

ByArash Markazi ESPN logo
Tuesday, May 13, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers doesn't think the apology made by banned team owner Donald Sterling on CNN was much of any apology at all.

While Rivers said he has yet to watch the interview, he was surprised to hear that during the interview Sterling said Magic Johnson hasn't done enough for minorities and isn't a good role model for the children of Los Angeles.

"Obviously I know who Magic is," Rivers said. "I'll stand by Magic every day of the year because I've known him for a long time. Having said that, I don't know what's going on out there. I tried not to get involved in that part of it right now. Whatever it is, that doesn't sound like much of an apology to me."

Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement Monday night at the conclusion of Game 4 between the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets, once again apologizing to Johnson on behalf of the league.

"I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling's interview with Anderson Cooper and while Magic Johnson doesn't need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack," the statement reads. "The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible."

Sterling's girlfriend, V. Stiviano, had posted a photo of her and Johnson on her Instagram account that Sterling told her to remove. He also told her not to bring Johnson or minorities to Clippers games during a racist rant that prompted outrage throughout the NBA and the nation when it was released on TMZ, leading to his lifetime ban from the league just days later.

During Sterling's interview with CNN he said that he has spoken to Johnson twice since the audio recordings were leaked.

"If I said anything wrong, I'm sorry," Sterling said. "He's a good person. I mean, what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so. But I'll say it, he's great, but I don't think he's a good example for the children of Los Angeles."

At the time, Johnson said he would not attend any more Clippers games as long as Sterling owned the team, but he attended Sunday's playoff game against the Oklahoma City Thunder along with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

"I was really happy that he came," Rivers said. "I didn't know it until after the game. Actually, I was driving home and my wife told me, 'Hey, it's good to get Magic at the game.' I said, 'Magic was at the game?' That's when I found out about it. I thought that was very, very nice. A great gesture by Magic. I think it's great for our fans to see him there. So I was very happy he made it to a game."

For his part, Johnson took to Twitter after the Heat's Game 4 win, referencing Sterling but instead choosing to focus on the playoffs:

I'd rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview.

- Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 13, 2014When Rivers was asked again about Sterling apologizing for his racist remarks, he said he was glad he did but that it should have come sooner.

"I'm glad that he did it. I don't have much more comments than that," Rivers said. "I think that's what you have to do, and you should do it. He probably should have done it right away. Having said that, I don't have much comment more than that. I haven't heard the apology. I personally don't need one. But I think the right thing is always when you make a mistake you should man up and apologize, so it's good that he did it."

Rivers doesn't plan on watching Sterling's interview with Anderson Cooper or Shelly Sterling's interview with Barbara Walters on Monday. In fact, he has been trying to avoid all Sterling talk when he turns on the television or radio."What I've decided to do is any time anything comes on, I usually turn (it off), not because of some protest or anything, I just don't need the clutter right now," Rivers said. "I got the basketball operations. I got the team. We're in the middle of the playoffs. So for right now what I've decided to do is just kind of tune out, if you want to say. It's just right for me right now. I'm sure at some point I will sit down and listen and hear. I'll hear it anyway from somebody what's been said. I'll probably react from there. I'm just too focused on what we're doing right now."

Rivers spoke to interim Clippers CEO Dick Parsons, who arrived in Los Angeles on Monday, before the team left for Oklahoma City for Game 5 of their second-round series against the Thunder. While Rivers, as the senior vice president of basketball operations, will continue to run the basketball side of the team, he said the addition of Parsons will help calm the franchise during this transition period.

"He's going to make a big difference," Rivers said. "Obviously he's just gotten in the door. Today is the first time he's been in L.A. He's going to make a big difference, especially for the folks in downtown, they have lives and careers, and they want to know if they're safe, where do we go from here? Dick can do that and I can really just focus on the basketball part. That's really the only thing I'm qualified to do anyway. So I think it's really important getting someone in place and being able to calm the nerves and do their job and allow everybody else to do their jobs. I think that's really important. Getting Dick in is a huge step in the right direction I think for us."

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