In excerpts of an interview aired on Monday by CNN, Sterling, 80,
also seemed to express resignation about moves by the National
Basketball Association to force a sale of the team he has owned for
more than three decades.
"What's at the end of the road? What's the benefit, especially at my
age?" he told CNN when asked if he intended to fight the NBA to keep
his franchise, capping its best season ever, tied 2-2 in a
best-of-seven series against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 2 of
the NBA playoffs.
Sterling came under fire on April 25 when the website TMZ.com posted
an audio recording of him chastising a female friend for publicly
associating with black people, including retired NBA great Earvin
The recording sparked a torrent of outrage from fans, NBA players
and commercial sponsors, several of which have severed ties with the
Four days later, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Sterling $2.5
million and banned him from pro basketball for life in an
unprecedented rebuke that bars Sterling from any further association
with the NBA or his team.
Silver also called on the league's 29 other owners who make up the
NBA's governing board to strip Sterling of team ownership, a
first-time use of such a sanction that would require a
three-quarters vote by the board.
The woman on the tape, a 31-year-old model who goes by the name V.
Stiviano and has been frequently photographed with Sterling, has
said through her attorney that the conversation was recorded with
Sterling's knowledge and consent last fall.
Stiviano has denied having a sexual relationship with Sterling,
though her lawyer, Mac Nehoray, has acknowledged that the Clippers
owner lavished his client with expensive gifts, including cars and
an upscale duplex home in Los Angeles.
Nehoray has said the recording that sparked the uproar was leaked to
the media by one of Stiviano's friends with whom she entrusted a
copy of the tape for "safekeeping."
'I'M NOT A RACIST'
Asked by CNN's Anderson Cooper whether he felt he had been "set up,"
Sterling replied, "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," Sterling said.
He called himself foolish, and without referring to Stiviano by
name, added: "I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I
guess ... I was deluding myself."
Sterling said he waited two weeks to apologize because he was "so
emotionally distraught" by the episode.
"I'm not a racist. I made a terrible, terrible mistake," he said.
"I'm here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for
all the people that I've hurt. ... When I listen to that tape, I
don't even know how I can say words like that. I'm so sorry."
Meanwhile, his estranged wife, Shelly, who has vowed to defend a
50-percent stake in the team she owns through a family trust, said
she believed her husband's comments might point to dementia.
[to top of second column]
She told ABC News her husband told her he did not remember making
the remarks. "I said, 'Well, this is the tape.' And he says, 'Hmm. I
don't remember it,'" Shelly Sterling said. "That's when I thought he
A 10-member advisory NBA committee has already
initiated the process of terminating Sterling's ownership, voting
unanimously on May 1 to proceed "as expeditiously as possible."
In a separate step to pave the way for Sterling's ouster, the NBA
placed his longtime top lieutenant, Andy Roeser, on indefinite leave
last week and installed Richard Parsons, a former chairman of Time
Warner and Citigroup, as interim chief executive officer.
Speaking to reporters on Monday after his first meeting with the
Clippers' staff, Parsons said he would oversee the club's business
operations during its "period of transition" and serve as "proxy
owner for all matters having to do with the team."
Stressing he was not involved in efforts to remove Sterling, Parsons
said he believed the club ownership would ultimately change and said
that "a prolonged legal battle is in no one's interest."
He declined to comment on Sterling's statement of apology, except to
characterize it as "a little late, for sure."
Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million while they
were still based in San Diego. He moved the team, now worth at least
$575 million, according to Forbes magazine, to Los Angeles in 1984.
Asked on CNN about his taped comments on Magic Johnson, Sterling
said, "If I said anything wrong, I'm sorry."
"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."
Parsons expressed bewilderment at those comments, saying: "The Magic
I know is a terrific guy and a great role model."
(Additional Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; writing by Steve
Gorman; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Bernadette Baum, Dan Grebler and
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