The 80-year-old billionaire declared he’s “not a racist,” but rather an individual who “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.”
“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. I’m a good member who made a mistake and I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness,” 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,” he noted.
These were Sterling’s first public comments since racist recordings emerged last month and earned him a lifetime NBA ban, but when the subject turned to Johnson, who was mentioned in the recordings, Sterling was anything but apologetic.
After revealing he had spoken with Johnson on two occasions since the scandal broke, Sterling repeated to Cooper the lukewarm apology he gave Johnson, who famously retired from the league in the fall of 1991 after testing positive for the HIV virus.
“He’s a good person. I mean, what am I going to say?” Sterling said. “Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don’t think so. But I’ll say it, he’s great.
“He’s got AIDS!” Sterling said loudly at one point, cutting off Cooper as the interviewer attempted to cite Johnson’s accomplishments after Sterling asked, “What has he done, big Magic Johnson, what has he done?”
Sterling changed course briefly during the interview to call Johnson “a good person,” but resumed his criticism.
“He acts so holy,” Sterling said. “He made love to every girl in every city in America, and he had AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him, I hope he could live and be well. I didn’t criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children?”
Cooper corrected Sterling, explaining that Johnson was HIV-positive but did not have “full-blown AIDS.”
Sterling briefly adjusted his language but not his tone.
“What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV. Is that someone we want to respect, and tell our kids about?” Sterling said. “I think he should be ashamed of himself.”
The comments earned Sterling a quick rebuke from NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who handed down a lifetime ban and $2.5 million fine against Sterling last month.
“I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling’s interview with Anderson Cooper and while Magic Johnson doesn’t need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack. The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible,” Silver said.
On April 25, 2014, TMZ Sports released what it said is an April 9, 2014 audio recording of a conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend or former girlfriend.
Sterling was recorded making racist and outrageous statements in the conversation. An NBA investigation, which included an interview with Sterling, determined the voice to be authentic. Following the investigation, NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million after a firestorm of controversy.
The move was praised by many former NBA players, including Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kevin Johnson, Charles Barkley and others.
USA Today Sports reported on May 8 that Shelly Sterling intends to remain a 50% owner of the Clippers, even though the NBA banned her husband for life. Shelly Sterling said she would remain a passive owner and does not want to be involved in running the team.Follow @exnbadotcom
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