More than two weeks after the release of leaked audio that led to him losing the Clippers, Donald Sterling has broken his media silence, and he insists he's not actually as awful a person as his words, deeds, and decades of evidence would suggest.
Sterling sat down with Anderson Cooper for an interview set to air on CNN later today, but excerpts have already come out. And while Sterling expresses regret for his comments, he maintains that the real villain here is girlfriend V. Stiviano, who he claims goaded him into saying things he would never think.
"I don't even know how I can say words like that," Sterling said. "I don't know why the girl had me say those things."
"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 insists that this one indiscretion shouldn't color his entire career:
"I'm a good member who made a mistake and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness. Am I entitled to one mistake, after 35 years? 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."
"I'm not a racist. 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."
At least in the released excerpts, Sterling did not indicate he was planning to take the NBA to court over his ouster. But he did say that if he has his druthers, he'll remain an NBA owner.
"The people that are going to decide my fate are not the media, and not the players' union, but the NBA. If the owners feel I deserve another chance, then they'll give it to me."