Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Sunday said that his racist comments were “a terrible mistake and I’ll never do it again” — and then took a shot at Magic Johnson.
He made the apology in an exclusive interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper at the NBA owner’s home in Los Angeles, at the same time his wife Shelly Sterling was dishing to Barbara Walters on ABC News.
“I’m a good member who made a mistake and I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness,” he told Cooper. “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.”
Cooper asked why it took him so long to say that he was sorry.
“I’m just so emotionally distraught, and 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.”
Sterling was asked if he had apologized to Johnson, whose photo on Instagram with the owner’s girlfriend V. Stiviano set off the taped tirade that was later released to the media.
“If I said anything wrong I’m sorry. He’s a good person,” Sterling answered. “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.”
The comments come nearly two weeks after National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver announced a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine for Donald Sterling on April 29, following racist comments from the 80-year-old, which were caught on tape and released to the media.
Since Donald Sterling’s ban, several celebrities have said they would be willing to buy the team from Sterling, including Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen and Johnson. Sterling remains the owner, though his ban means he can have nothing to do with running the team and can’t attend any games. Silver announced Friday that former Citigroup chairman and current Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons has been named interim chief executive of the team.
Sterling told Cooper that he thought he was set up on the tape.
“I was baited. 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,” he said. He also said that he didn’t know how the tape got out,and whether or not Stiviano had a hand in its release.
“I don’t know, an 80 year old man is kind of foolish, and I’m kind of foolish. I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself.”
He no longer trusts her, he said.
“I just wish I could ask her why? And if she was just setting me up, I think that people say she was taping me for 2 years. So maybe I was just fooling myself thinking for 2 years that she cared for me. She certainly acted like it.”
Sterling called the episode a “terrible, terrible nightmare,” and said he felt particularly bad about the impact on the Clippers team.
“My players, they didn’t need this. they didn’t need this cloud over their head. They’re good people and I love them and respect them and I would always be there for them. … and for them to hear that I’m a possible racist is so painful to me, because I’m not a racist and I’ve never been a racist. it’s not me.
Cooper asked what Sterling thought when he saw the players wear their warm up jerseys in reverse so the Clippers name wasn’t visible.
“I really didn’t pay attention, they are Clippers and they’re mine and I’m theirs. That’s how I feel. I would do anything for them, I made a mistake I hope it’s in their heart to forgive me for that mistake.”
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