'I Was Baited,' Donald Sterling Tells CNN In (Mostly) Apologetic Interview
"I'm not a racist," Donald Sterling tells CNN in an interview about the scandal that brought a lifetime ban from the NBA. "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 also said he isn't likely to engage in a drawn-out legal battle with the NBA if the league attempts to force him out as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Both Sterling and his wife recently recorded high-profile interviews — Shelly with ABC's Barbara Walters, and Donald with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"I was baited," Donald Sterling tells Cooper. "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, but I don't talk about people."
The Clippers owner was banned by the NBA on April 29, days after a recording emerged in which he made racist remarks. Commissioner Adam Silver also urged Sterling's fellow owners to force him to sell the team.
Sterling tells Cooper that he doesn't know how the recording was released; he also says, "I don't know why the girl had me say those things."
Sterling also mentioned former L.A. Lakers great Magic Johnson, whose name came up in the recording as an example of the kind of people the owner doesn't want at his games.
"If I said anything wrong, I'm sorry. He's a good person," Sterling said. He paused before adding, "Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so."
Sterling added that he doesn't see Johnson as "a good example for the children of Los Angeles."
Those are excerpts from the full interview, which CNN says will be aired Monday night.
Speaking to ABC's Walters, Shelly Sterling says she believes her husband, 80, might be slipping.
Saying that Donald Sterling told her he didn't remember saying the things on the tape, she says in her opinion, "I think he — it's the onset of dementia."
She added that she's poised to file for divorce but that her advisers said to hold off on doing so.
She also said she would "absolutely" fight the league if it attempts to remove her along with her husband, as we reported Sunday.
Responding to that remark, the NBA said that if the Clippers don't belong to Donald Sterling, they wouldn't belong to his estranged wife, either. The league clarified its position late Sunday. Shelly Sterling's attorney called the interpretation "self-serving."
"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," NBA spokesman Mike 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."
Bass was quoted by the AP, which got this reaction from Shelly Sterling's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell: "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."