(JTA) — Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner banned for life from the NBA for making racist comments, publicly apologized in his first interview since the remarks were made public.
“I’m a good member who made a mistake and I am apologizing and asking for forgiveness,” Sterling said in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper to be aired Monday evening, though excerpts were released earlier in the day. “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.
Asked by Cooper why he waited so long to apologize, Sterling said it was because he was “so emotionally distraught.”
“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 told Cooper.
Under the punishment laid down late last month by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, Sterling may not associate with the team or the league after it was determined that his was the voice recorded without his knowledge making the racist rant, which included comments about black Jews in Israel. Sterling will be pressured to sell the team; he also was fined $2.5 million.
Sterling said he was not going to fight to keep the team, saying it would not accomplish anything for him to alienate the other owners and for each side to spend millions of dollars in order to fight it out in court.
“If the owners feel I deserve another chance, then they will give it to me,” he said.
His estranged wife, Shelly, who has co-owned the team with her husband since 1981, says she will fight any attempts to force her to sell the team.
Under the ban, Sterling may not attend Clippers games or practices, and cannot enter any Clippers facility. He also was barred from making business or player decisions and from NBA Board of Governors meetings or other activities.