NBA team owner Donald Sterling has broken his silence with the media and given his first interview since the recording of his racist remarks were released over two weeks ago.
Sterling had CNN’s Anderson Cooper come to his Beverly Hills home for his first interview, where he apologized and asked for forgiveness while telling Cooper he’s not racist and believes he was set up by his 31-year-old girlfriend, V. Stiviano.
The full interview will air Monday evening on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.
I’m not a racist,” Sterling said to Cooper. “I made a terrible, terrible mistake and I’m here with you today to apologize and ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt.”
Originally both Sterling and Stiviano were to appear together for interviews with Barbara Walters and Anderson Cooper, but Stiviano ended up going on air with Walters alone after Sterling backed out at the last minute.
Cooper asked Sterling why it took him so long to break his silence about the recordings, to which Sterling says he’s been too “emotionally distraught.”
“I caused the problem. I don’t know how to correct it,” he said.
After seeming to own his mistakes, the NBA owner asked for people to give him a little leeway regarding his comments since he says he’ll never make this mistake again.
“Am I entitled to one mistake, after 35 years? I mean I love my league, I love my partners, am I entitled to one mistake?”
He faces a tough challenge ahead while the other team owners decide his fate in the league. Should 75% of them vote against him, then Sterling will be forced to sell his team however Sterling hinted that he wouldn’t fight the decision.
“If the owners feel I have another chance, then they’ll give it to me,” the 80-year-old billionaire said.
“If they fight with me and they spend millions and I spend millions let’s say I win or they win, I just don’t know if that’s important.”
The most remorse he showed was towards his players, who he specifically apologized to.
“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,” he said.
He also made sure to say that he has since apologized to Magic Johnson, who was the target of one of his comments to his girlfriend, while at the same time saying Johnson could do more for L.A.’s youth.
“He’s a good person,’ Sterling said of Johnson. “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.”
Sterling also spoke a great deal about Stiviano, the woman who secretly recorded their conversations only to release them later and destroy the man’s reputation.
“I don’t know why the girl had me say those things,” he said.
When asked, Sterling told Cooper that he was baited into making those comments because he claims it’s not the way he talks. He also said that he thought that his relationship with her was real, however he may have been “diluting” himself with the 51-year age gap.
“I don’t trust her and I just wish I could ask her why and if she was just setting me up,” he says. “I think that people say she was taping me for two years. So maybe I was just fooling myself thinking for two years that she cared for me. She certainly acted like it.”
Sterling’s comments drew swift action from the NBA, who almost immediately imposed a $2.5 million fine and suspended him from the league for life. The rest of his fate is yet to be determined, however he may be forced to sell his team and bow out of the league forever.
Should he be forced to sell his team for comments he made in private to someone he supposedly loved? Let us know with a comment!