Magic Johnson in Gary today, racial rant a likely topic
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org/302-0949 April 28, 2014 1:47PM
Former NBA player Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Jr. walks on the court during the NBA All Star basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Updated: April 28, 2014 8:43PM
GARY — As Earvin “Magic” Johnson comes to the city tonight for a school district scholarship benefit, speculation is swirling about the fate of the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Johnson was the subject of racist remarks allegedly uttered by longtime Clippers owner Donald Sterling in a telephone conversation released by TMZ.
Johnson is expected to speak with the media briefly at 6:30 p.m. at the Genesis Center, the site of the Gary Promise banquet to raise money for scholarships to benefit Gary Community School Corp. students.
Meanwhile, the NBA is holding a press conference Tuesday to discuss the Sterling investigation.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who will join Johnson tonight, said it’s an opportunity for conversation about combating racism. “There’s no surprise that racism is alive and well. We’ve seen it in more distressing areas than in an NBA owner’s box.”
The black players he disparaged contribute to Sterling’s profit margin, Freeman-Wilson said.
“I don’t think the frustration and anger you hear should be in vain. The best way to send a message is to send it to those who advertise with him.”
Already, State Farm Insurance said it’s “taking a pause” in its sponsorship of Clippers games. Used car chain CarMax and Virgin America are halting sponsorships, they said Monday. Kia Motors has also suspended its ads.
There’s also speculation that Johnson, who’s a part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, would buy the Clippers if Sterling is forced to sell the team.
Johnson said in a televised interview Sunday on ABC that Sterling should relinquish ownership of the Clippers. “This is bad for everybody. This is bad for America,” he said. Johnson said he won’t go to Clippers games as long as Sterling owns the team.
In the recording, a man believed to be Sterling is urging a woman not to post photos of herself with black friends on her social media account. One of those photos is believed to be of the woman posing with Johnson.
Johnson also owns several Starbucks coffee shops and is part-owner of SodexoMAGIC, the company that provides food service for Gary’s schools.
In protest of Sterling’s alleged remarks, Clippers players wore their warm-up jerseys inside out before Sunday’s playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.