LA Clippers owner, Donald Sterling has apologized in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, saying he was “baited” into making the alleged racist remarks, nearly two weeks after the NBA fined him and banned for life for his comments, which were recorded by his girlfriend.
“When I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I can say words like that. … I don’t know why the girl had me say those things,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview set to air on Monday.
“You’re saying you were set up?” Cooper asked.
“Well yes, I was baited,” Sterling said. “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.”
Sterling, an 80-year-old married lawyer and billionaire real-estate investor, hasn’t spoken publicly about the accusations, which drew widespread condemnation from fans, players and the league, as well as an NBA ban and a $2.5 million fine.
“I’m not a racist. I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt,” he said.
In a recording obtained and later released by TMZ, Sterling is heard telling a female friend, V. Stiviano, not to associate with black people, including Magic Johnson. Sterling told Cooper he’s since spoken twice with Johnson. When asked by Cooper if he apologized, Sterling responded:
“If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry. 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.
When asked by Cooper why he took so long to say he’s sorry, Sterling said he was “emotionally distraught.”
“The reason it’s hard for me, very hard for me, is that I’m wrong. I caused the problem. I don’t know how to correct it,” he said.
Last week, there leaked another audio recording, allegedly showing Sterling trying to add context to the racist comments that got him banned from the league. In that recording, Sterling purportedly explained that his comments were driven by jealousy.
“The girl is black. I like her. I’m jealous that she’s with other black guys. I want her. So what the hell, can I in private tell her, you know, ‘I don’t want you to be with anybody’?” the man purported to be Sterling said in that recording, according to RadarOnline.
Earlier, ABC News’ Barbara Walters spoke with Sterling’s estranged wife Shelly, who said she will “eventually” divorce him, adding that she would fight any attempt by the league to force her to sell.
Donald Sterling’s net worth is estimated to be somewhere around $1.9billion and he bought the LA Clippers in 1981 but now Shelly legally owns half of the team.
“I was shocked by what he (Donald Sterling) said. And, well, I guess whatever their decision is, we have to live with it,” Shelly Sterling told ABC News. “But I don’t know why I should be punished for what his actions were.”
In response to her comments, the NBA said on Sunday that, under the league’s constitution, the interests of all other owners of a team come to an end when the controlling owner’s stake is terminated.