- (Photo: CNN video screencap)
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has pleaded for forgiveness for his controversial racist comments that got him banned for life from the NBA. He also noted that he was baited into making the racist remarks by his female friend.
"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," Sterling told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview on Monday.
As for his controversial comments caught on tape and released to the public in April, the 80-year-old married lawyer and billionaire real-estate investor said:
"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."
When Cooper asked Sterling if he was set up, the latter stated: "Well yes, 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."
The tape, in which Sterling talks with his friend V. Stiviano, exposes a long conversation in which the Clippers owner makes a number of racial remarks.
"You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games," Sterling tells Stiviano. "Don't put [Magic Johnson] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so [my friends] have to call me. And don't bring him to my games."
The comments sparked a lot of anger in the NBA community. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Sterling is now banned for life from the NBA, and that he will be forced to sell the Clippers as well as face a $2.5 million fine.
Sterling took the blame for the situation in Monday's interview, and said that the Clippers team, which is currently competing in the NBA playoffs, did not deserve to have the incident hanging over their heads.
"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.
Sterling added: "I'm a good member who made a mistake and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness. 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."
As for Stiviano, Sterling said that he was "fond" of her, but does not know her motivations.
"I thought she liked me and really cared for me," he said. "I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself. ... I just wish I could ask her why, and if she was just setting me up."
The full CNN interview is scheduled to air 8 p.m. ET Monday on "AC360."