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Disgraced NBA owner Sterling provokes fresh outrage

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, pictured during a NBA playoff game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on April 21, 2014
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, pictured during a NBA playoff game between the Clippers and the Golden State Warriors, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, on April 21, 2014

NBA icon Magic Johnson said Tuesday that disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has yet to apologize adequately for racially charged remarks that have the league seeking his ouster.

Johnson took the high road a day after Sterling's interview with CNN segued from an apology for advising his girlfriend not to associate with black people into attack on the former Lakers great.

"Even today, he has never apologized to me or to the other minorites that he has offended," Johnson said in a call to celebrity news website TMZ, insisting that he bore Sterling no ill-will.

"We all should try to get him some help," said Johnson, who was also scheduled to appear on CNN later Tuesday.

Sterling's appearance with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper was aimed at salvaging his reputation and making the case that he should be allowed to retain his coveted basketball franchise.

Magic Johnson attends Game Four of the NBA playoff series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, May 11, 2014
Magic Johnson attends Game Four of the NBA playoff series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Oklahoma City Thunder, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, May 11, 2014

But far from quelling the controversy, the real estate mogul ignited a new firestorm by attacking Johnson, a beloved figure throughout the US sports world.

"He's messing with the wrong brother," filmmaker Spike Lee told Cooper on Tuesday. "He's making the NBA look like the laughing stock, and if I was an owner, he has to go."

Sterling called Johnson a poor role model because he had contracted HIV and suggested he had not used his fame or fortune to help fellow African Americans.

"He acts so holy," the 80-year-old billionaire said of Johnson. "He does nothing. It's all talk."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver holds a press conference to discuss Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist comments, at New York's Hilton Hotel on April 29, 2014
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver holds a press conference to discuss Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist comments, at the Hilton Hotel in New York on April 29, 2014

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver condemned Sterling's latest remarks, saying in a statement the league was pressing ahead with efforts to remove Sterling "as expeditiously as possible."

"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," Silver said.

The Clippers' popular coach, Doc Rivers -- who like most players on the team roster is African American -- also spoke up for Johnson.

And, responding to Sterling's expression of regret for his racist comments, Rivers told USA Today: "Whatever it is, that doesn't sound like much of an apology to me."

Shelly Sterling (C), wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, watches the Clippers' game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on April 27, 2014
Shelly Sterling (C), wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, watches the Clippers' game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on April 27, 2014

The controversy has been a distraction for the team, who have their best opportunity in years to fashion a deep playoff run.

The team is tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series against Oklahoma City and are scheduled to take the court again later Tuesday.

Already banned for life by the NBA for the bigoted comments to his girlfriend that prompted the league to attempt to strip him of ownership of his club, Sterling called the remarks a "mistake."

"I'm not a racist," he told CNN, pinning much of the blame on V. Stiviano, the young woman he chastised in the leaked conversation.

"I was baited," Sterling said. "I don't know why the girl had me say those things."

Los Angeles Clippers coach Glenn 'Doc' Rivers at a press conference prior to the Clippers' game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on April 29, 2014
Los Angeles Clippers coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers at a press conference prior to the Clippers' game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center on April 29, 2014

Meanwhile, Sterling's estranged wife Shelly, who has said she'll fight to keep her ownership stake in the team, told NBC television that her estranged husband was more likely senile than racist.

"He's not the man I know, or I knew," she said. "There’s something wrong. I really think, personally, he has dementia."

She also suggested it was sexist of the NBA to force her to relinquish her share of the team if her husband must give up his.

"Why am I the victim when he's the perpetrator," she said. "If somebody kills somebody, does the wife have to stand trial too?"