LOS ANGELES — Clippers owner Donald Sterling apologized Sunday for racist comments captured on tape, saying they were a “terrible mistake.”
“I’m not a racist,” Sterling told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in excerpts posted from an interview taped Sunday and set to air Monday. “I made a terrible mistake. I’m here to apologize.”
In his first public comments since being banned for life from the NBA, Sterling said years of good behavior as an owner should count toward his future.
“I’m a good member who made a mistake,” Sterling said. “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.”
The interview came nearly two weeks after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling, fined him $2.5 million and urged the other league owners to force him to sell the team. Sterling said he waited to make a public apology because he was “emotionally distraught.”
“The reason it’s hard for me, very hard for me, is that I’m wrong,” Sterling said. “I caused the problem. I don’t know how to correct it.” He later added, “If the owners feel I have another chance, then they’ll give it to me.”
Sterling’s comments came on the same day ABC News posted excerpts of an interview his estranged wife gave to Barbara Walters. Shelly Sterling said she would fight to keep her 50 percent ownership stake of the team.