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Donald Sterling breaks his silence: ‘I’m a good member who made a mistake’

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling arrives at City of Hope's Music and Entertainment Industry's Spirit of Life Gala in the Diamond Ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Hotels on January 13, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has finally broken his silence regarding a fine and a lifetime ban from the NBA as a result of a recorded conversation in which Sterling was caught making disturbing racial comments. In an interview for CNN’s “AC360” airing Monday, the former owner offers an apology for his racial comments and also opens up about V. Stiviano and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

Stiviano captured the 80-year-old Sterling making the remarks on tape and once that recording went public, Sterling’s life as he knew it changed drastically. Some of the comments involved him not wanting black people at his game and Sterling asking Stiviano not to take pictures with African-Americans, particularly Magic Johnson. In the interview with Anderson Cooper, Sterling disowns the perception that he is a racist.

In a plead for empathy and forgiveness he says, “I’m not a racist. I made a terrible mistake. I’m here to apologize. I’m a good member who made a mistake. 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.”

Unfortunately for Sterling, it was a mistake that hurt the coaches and players he employ. It is also a mistake that former players and those who have worked closely with Sterling have revealed as part of his nature. The racial comments were not shocking or something that was even new to the league. He just happened to be caught on tape this time. Sterling described it as a “terrible mistake” and discussed being “baited” into the conversation by V. Stiviano.

“I don’t know. An 80-year-old man is kind of foolish, and I’m kind of foolish,” he says in response to a question on whether he blames V.Stivianao for releasing the tapes. “I thought she liked me and really cared for me. I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself…I just wish I could ask her way, and if she was just setting me up.”

In the interview, he goes on to tell Cooper that what was heard in the recordings is not the way he talks too people or about people. One of the people he offended in the comments was Magic Johnson, who Sterling claims he has spoken to since the tapes were leaked, but the Clippers owner didn’t say whether he apologized or not. In his comments to Cooper, it was pretty clear that Sterling does not regret his dislike for the former Lakers superstar.

“If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry. He’s a good person. I mean, what am I goig 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 tells Cooper in the interview that the timing of his public apology was delayed because he was “emotionally distraught” and realizes that he “caused the problem,” a problem he didn’t now how to correct. The complete interview will air Monday night on CNN.

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