Donald Sterling apologizes, but L.A. mayor still wants new owner

Donald Sterling, right, sits with his wife, Shelly, during a Clippers game in 2010 in Los Angeles.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Mayor Eric Garcetti said through a spokesman Sunday that he still wants to see the NBA secure a new owner for the Los Angeles Clippers, even after owner Donald Sterling issued an apology on national television for racial comments that prompted the NBA to ban him for life.

Sterling told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview set to air Monday that he had “made a terrible mistake” and is “not a racist.” CNN on Sunday released excerpts of its interview on its website.

“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 mayor’s spokesman, 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.”

A Clippers spokesman said Sunday the team will have no comment about Donald or Shelly Sterling.

Donald Sterling said in his interview with Cooper that he was asking for forgiveness for his remarks about African Americans.

“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.”

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.

Sterling’s comments came two weeks after a recording was released to TMZ in which the billionaire told a female friend not to associate with black people, including Magic Johnson.

Excerpts of the CNN interview were released hours after Sterling’s wife, Shelly, 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 L.A. Clippers.

In the ABC interview, Shelly Sterling also suggested Donald is 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,” she 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.