In the interview with Anderson Cooper that aired Monday night on CNN, Sterling said Johnson, who is HIV-positive, is not "a good example for the children of Los Angeles."
"He's got AIDS," Sterling said. " ... Is this someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background."
Immediately after Game 4 on Monday night between the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets, NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement, 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 read. "The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible."
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, 2014Sterling's girlfriend, V. Stiviano, had posted a photo of her and Johnson on her Instagram account. Sterling told her to remove the photo and made racist comments that prompted outrage throughout the NBA and the nation when they were released, leading to his lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine from the league.
In the interview, Sterling said he's talked to Johnson twice since the audio recordings became public and was asked whether he apologized to the former Los Angeles Lakers star.
"If I said anything wrong, I'm sorry," Sterling told CNN in the interview. "He's a good person. I mean, what am I going to say?"
Sterling said Johnson urged him to "be patient" during their discussions.
"I think he wanted me just to do nothing, so he could buy the team," Sterling said.
However, Sterling added a dig at Johnson as well.
"Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so," he told CNN. "But I'll say it: He's great, but I don't think he's a good example for the children of Los Angeles."
Johnson declined to comment on Sterling's remarks when asked by ESPN.com. A source close to Johnson told ESPN.com that Sterling contacted Johnson only once, however, just after Stiviano's recordings were leaked, and it was to apologize for what he said.
Sterling also claimed in the CNN interview that he was set up by Stiviano to make the comments.
"Well, yes, I was baited," Sterling told CNN. "I mean, that's not the way I talk. I don't talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things. I don't talk about people."
The interview came nearly two weeks after Silver banned Sterling, fined him the league-maximum $2.5 million and urged the other team owners to force him to sell the team.
Sterling maintained he is "not a racist" and that his comments on the audio recordings were a "terrible mistake."
"I'm a good member who made a mistake," Sterling told CNN. "Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It's a terrible mistake, and I'll never do it again."
Sterling's ability to remain owner of the Clippers rests in the hands of the NBA's other 29 owners, who are expected to vote on the matter. A 75 percent majority is needed to oust Sterling. In the interim, the league has made Dick Parsons the CEO of the franchise.
Asked by CNN why he waited until now to make his first public comments, Sterling said he has been "emotionally distraught."
"The reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong," Sterling said. "I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it."
His wife, Shelly, told ABC News' Barbara Walters on Sunday that she would fight to keep her 50 percent ownership stake of the team.
"I will fight that decision," Shelly Sterling said. "To be honest with you, I'm wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there's 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?
"I don't know why I should be punished for what his actions were."
NBA spokesman Mike Bass released a statement Sunday night in response to Shelly Sterling's comments.
"Under the NBA constitution, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a three-quarter vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well," Bass said. "It doesn't matter whether the owners are related as is the case here. These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team."
In turn, Shelly Sterling's attorney fired back with a statement of his own.
"We do not agree with the league's self-serving interpretation of its constitution, its application to Shelly Sterling or its validity under these unique circumstances," attorney Pierce O'Donnell said. "We live in a nation of laws. California law and the United States Constitution trump any such interpretation."
Shelly Sterling told Walters that she eventually will divorce her husband and that she hadn't yet done so because of financial considerations.
"For the last 20 years, I've been seeing attorneys for a divorce," she said. "In fact, I have here -- I just filed -- I was going to file the petition. I signed the petition for a divorce. And it came to almost being filed. And then, my financial adviser and my attorney said to me, 'Not now.'"
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi and The Associated Press is included in this report.
Donald Sterling: 'I'm Not A Racist'
ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst discusses Donald Sterling's plea for forgiveness and LeBron James' comments on the Sterling family.