Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was an obvious "wreck" and on an emotional roller-coaster after telling a television host that Magic Johnson's contributions to basketball and to the black community were minimal at best, said the former president of the Los Angeles NAACP chapter.
Leon Jenkins told The Associated Press that he spoke with the embattled Mr. Sterling after the interview to chastise his televised remarks and let him know that his apology for racial comments against blacks was lost in the mix of his condemnations of Mr. Johnson — but he found the Clippers owner "really distraught," he said.
Mr. Jenkins also said Mr. Sterling truly hoped the public would forgive his statements, the New York Post reported.
"I said, 'Once you got off focus and started talking about Magic Johnson, whatever reconsideration some people would have, you kind of lost it,' " Mr. Jenkins said.
Mr. Jenkins recently made national headlines when he resigned from his leading NAACP role after it went public that his chapter was about to give Mr. Sterling a lifetime achievement award.
That decision — in the wake of racial comments Mr. Sterling was heard to have made on audio to his female friend — was then reversed. Mr. Jenkins said he's known Mr. Sterling for a decade and wanted to honor him for helping to create an endowment at Los Angeles Southwest College, a majority black university.
"I thought if he was going to give a lifetime endowment, he should get a lifetime award," Mr. Jenkins said, the New York Post reported. "If this had happened a month later [audio taped controversy], Southwest would have had an endowment, and I would have been a hero. .... Talk about bad luck. It couldn't have been any worse."
Mr. Sterling faces a lifetime ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine — which he is reportedly gearing up to fight — after a tape surfaced of him telling his female friend that she shouldn't post pictures of herself with blacks on her Instagram account or invite blacks to games.
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