Donald Sterling

By Ismael Estrada and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 11:26 AM EDT, Mon May 12, 2014

(CNN) — Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling says he’s sorry but feels he was “baited” to make racist comments, nearly two weeks after the NBA fined him and banned him for life for his remarks in a recorded conversation.
Sterling: ‘I’m asking for forgiveness’

“When I listen to that tape, I don’t even know how I can say words like that. … I don’t know why the girl had me say those things,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview set to air on Monday.

“You’re saying you were set up?” Cooper asked.

“Well yes, I was baited,” Sterling said. “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, an 80-year-old married lawyer and billionaire real-estate investor, hasn’t spoken publicly about the accusations since celebrity gossip website TMZ posted a 10-minute audio recording of him that drew widespread condemnation from fans, players and the league.
I caused the problem. I don’t know how to correct it.
Donald Sterling to Anderson Cooper

In that audio clip, Sterling chastised friend V. Stiviano for posting pictures online of her posing with African-Americans, including basketball Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

The recording triggered a firestorm that led to Sterling’s lifetime ban from the NBA and a $2.5 million fine. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has asked the other 29 owners to force Sterling, the longest-tenured owner in the league, to sell the Clippers.

“I’m not a racist,” Sterling told Cooper. “I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt.”

Asked by Cooper why he took so long to say he’s sorry, Sterling said he was “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 said.

Sterling said he doesn’t want his comments to eclipse his lengthy tenure with the NBA.

“I’m a good member who made a mistake and I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness,” he 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.”

Now, Sterling said, his fate is in the league’s hands.

“If the owners feel I have another chance, then they’ll give it to me,” he said.

‘I thought she liked me’

Last week, another audio recording surfaced online, allegedly showing Sterling trying to add context to the racist comments that got him banned from the league.

In that recording, Sterling purportedly explained that his comments were driven by jealousy.

“The girl is black. I like her. I’m jealous that she’s with other black guys. I want her. So what the hell, can I in private tell her, you know, ‘I don’t want you to be with anybody’?” the man purported to be Sterling said in that recording, according to RadarOnline.

On Sunday, Sterling told CNN that in the recording “I spoke to a girl that I was fond of.”

Stiviano told ABC News earlier this month that the recorded conversation was similar to many she’s had with Sterling about race.

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