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Sterling to CNN: “I’m not a racist”

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Updated 12 months ago on
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Donald Sterling, banned by the NBA for life on April 29, apologized Sunday for his previous comments and said he is not a racist.

Sterling spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and the interview will air Monday. Excerpts were detailed Sunday on CNN.com.

The exiled Los Angeles Clippers owner addressed the tape recording that included him making racist remarks to his then-girlfriend, V. Stiviano. He said he was set up.

“I’m not a racist,” Sterling said to 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.”

He said of his recorded discussion with Stiviano, “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. …

“Yes, I was baited. 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.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, while banning the 80-year-old owner and assessing Sterling a $2.5 million fine, asked the league’s owners for a vote to remove Sterling from their ranks. The next step in that process is expected to occur in the coming week.

Sterling made a plea Sunday to his fellow owners.

“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.”

Cooper asked Sterling if he apologized to former Los Angeles Lakers star Magic Johnson, whom he told Stiviano not to bring to Clippers games.

“If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry,” Sterling said. “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.”

Earlier Sunday, Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, told ABC in an interview that she plans to file for divorce and she “absolutely” will fight the NBA if it tries to force her to sell her stake of ownership with the Clippers.

“I will fight that decision,” she told Barbara Walters in an exclusive interview. “To be honest with you, I’m wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there’s 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband? Or would they leave the husband in?”

Shelly Sterling added that the Clippers franchise is her passion and her legacy to her family.

“I’ve been with the team for 33 years, through the good times and the bad times,” she added.

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