Donald Sterling, the disgraced and banned owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, asked for forgiveness in his first sit-down interview since audio recordings of him making racist comments surfaced last month.
"I'm not a racist," Sterling told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an interview that will air Monday. "I made a terrible mistake. I'm here to apologize."
Sterling, who took over ownership of the Clippers in 1981, is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA, but he has been banned for life and fined $2.5 million by commissioner Adam Silver and may be forced to relinquish ownership of the franchise.
"I'm a good member who made a mistake, and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness," Sterling told Cooper. "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."
Immediately following the conclusion of Game 4 between the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets, NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement, once again apologizing to Magic Johnson on behalf of the league.
"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 statement read. "The NBA Board of Governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible."
For his part, Johnson took to Twitter after the Heat's Game 4 win and the release of Silver's statement, referencing Sterling but instead choosing to focus on the playoffs:
I'd rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview.- Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 13, 2014
Sterling's ability to remain owner of the Clippers rests in the hands of the NBA's other 29 owners, who are expected to vote on the matter. A 75 percent majority is needed to oust Sterling. In the interim, the league has made Dick Parsons the CEO of the franchise.
"If the owners feel I have another chance, then they'll give it to me," Sterling said.
When asked by Cooper why he waited until now to make his first public comments, Sterling said he's been "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," Sterling said.
Sterling also claims in the interview that he was set up by Stiviano to make the comments.
"Well yes, I was baited," Sterling tells CNN. "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."
The racist comments, which have been verified to be said by Sterling, affect a league that is predominantly African-American.
"As players, we want what's right and we don't feel like no one in his family should be able to own the team," James said.
Shelly Sterling has said that she plans to work to keep her ownership stake and is willing to go to court if necessary.