Donald Sterling: 'I was baited' into making racial comments

Donald Sterling said in an interview Sunday that he felt baited into making racial comments on a recording that sparked widespread outrage and prompted the NBA to ban the L.A. Clippers owner for life.

In a recording released by TMZ two weeks ago, Sterling tells a female friend, V. Stiviano, not to associate with black people, including Magic Johnson.

Speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Sterling suggested that Stiviano pushed him to make those statements.

"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 said. "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."

At the time the tape was released, Stiviano and Sterling's wife, Shelly, were locked in a legal battle, with Shelly demanding that Stiviano give back cars and a $1.8-million condo that Donald Sterling had allegedly given her.

Sterling on Sunday also apologized for his comments.

"I'm a good member who made a mistake and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness," he said on CNN. "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 added: "I'm not a racist. I made a terrible mistake."

Sterling said he was distraught over the scandal, telling Cooper: "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.

Excerpts of the CNN interview, which will be broadcast Monday, were released hours after Shelly Sterling spoke with ABC's Barbara Walters.

Shelly Sterling said she may eventually divorce Donald Sterling and will fight efforts to force her to sell her share of the Clippers.

In the ABC interview, Shelly Sterling also suggested that Donald Sterling was suffering from dementia, which she said could explain the comments caught on tape. (Donald Sterling did not address his health in the interview material CNN released Sunday.)

"I was shocked by what he said," Shelly Sterling told Walters. "But I don't know why I should be punished for what his actions were."

The NBA responded to the recordings by banning Donald Sterling for life and saying it would seek to force him to sell the team. But Shelly Sterling said she sees the Clippers as part of her family legacy.

"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?" she said.

Los Angeles city leaders said they had not yet seen Donald Sterling's interview.

"We haven't yet seen this interview, which is scheduled to air tomorrow, but regardless, we still believe a change of ownership is in the best interests of the fans and our city," Yusef Robb, the spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said in an email. Garcetti said last week that he had spoken to Sterling and urged him to apologize.

Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who persuaded his colleagues to back the NBA’s lifetime ban on Sterling two weeks ago, declined on Sunday to respond directly to the remarks reported by CNN.

“The Donald Sterling matter is now in the hands of the NBA. The city took a very strong position … to support the NBA’s ruling against him,” said Parks’ chief of staff, Bernard Parks Jr. “Commenting further gives Sterling’s position more credence than it’s worth at this point.”