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Donald Sterling is asking for forgiveness.
The disgraced owner of the Los Angeles Clippers sat down with CNN’s Anderson Cooper for an exclusive interview Sunday where he admitted he had made a “terrible mistake” when he made racist and inflammatory comments about African-Americans, including Magic Johnson.
“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.”
As for why he waited a couple of weeks to apologize instead of doing so right away, Sterling replied: “Well, that’s a very good question. I just — I’m just so emotionally distraught, and 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 also offered an apology to Johnson: “If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry. He’s a good person. 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’s tirade was prompted when his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, posted a photo of herself with Johnson on Instagram. In the audio remarks obtained by TMZ and Deadspin, he expressed displeasure about having “black people” attend Clipper games.
He has since been banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million. The NBA also is working to force a sale. Should the owners decide to do so, Sterling isn’t sure he’s going to fight it.
“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,” he told Cooper.
He also insisted that he is not a racist and thinks he was set up by his girlfriend.
“I was baited — I mean that’s not the way I talk,” he said. “I don’t talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things — I don’t talk about people.”
While he doesn’t know how the tape got released — Stiviano has denied leaking it — he said he feels “foolish.”
“I thought she liked me and really cared for me,” he said. “I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself.”
He added: “I don’t trust her, and 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 two years. So maybe I was just fooling myself thinking for two years that she cared for me. She certainly acted like it.”
The full interview will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday on Anderson Cooper 360°.
For her part, Stiviano recorded a conversation with Barbara Walters just over a week ago where she said that Sterling was “tormented” by the firestorm. Sterling was present but declined to participate.
“I think the relationship is unsteady, even while we were there,” Walters said last week on The View. “He was going to do an interview, and then he didn’t, and then he did. … He went from caring about her to calling her names. He would do the interview; he wouldn’t do the interview. So it’s very erratic. It’s hard to pin down.”
Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, has called his comments “despicable.”
Watch parts of Cooper’s interview with Sterling below.
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