A day after her husband’s CNN interview reignited a firestorm of criticism, Shelly Sterling told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie that she would go “as far as I can go” to retain her stake in the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Why am I the victim when he’s the perpetrator?” Sterling said of her embattled husband, Donald. “If somebody kills somebody, does the wife have to stand trial too?”
Shelly Sterling sat down with Guthrie on the “Today” show after watching her estranged husband discuss his views with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. In the wide-ranging interview, longtime Clippers owner Donald Sterling attacked Lakers great Magic Johnson, suggested that African Americans have not done enough to help their community and blamed the media for creating the turmoil that envelops his team and his family.
“If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry,” Donald Sterling told Cooper. “He’s a good person. I mean, what am I going to say? Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don’t think so. But I’ll say it, he’s great. But I don’t think he’s a good example for the children of Los Angeles.”
In the “Today” interview that aired Tuesday, Shelly Sterling said she suggested her husband’s inflammatory comments were signs that he was suffering from dementia.
“I felt bad for him, he’s not the man that I know,” she said as her attorney sat beside her. “I think it’s been happening but no one really knew the reason. He gets crazy and yells and screams and hollers one moment, next moment he’ll talk about something else. It’s like nothing makes sense.”
She pointed to Donald Sterling’s broadsiding of Johnson, saying it didn’t make sense.
“Why would he bring Magic Johnson into the issue about what’s happening now?” she said. “That’s where I felt pity because he couldn’t get all the dots together. He couldn’t connect the dots.”
Shelly Sterling made similar suggestions regarding the onset of dementia in her interview with Barbara Walters that aired Monday.
Donald Sterling, 80, apologized repeatedly in his interview with Cooper for the racial remarks he made that prompted the NBA to fine him $2.5 million and ban him for life.
For her part, Shelly Sterling said she agreed with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s punishment -- as it applied to her husband.
But, she said, “I don’t agree with what their decision is for me,” she said. “I wholly feel that I’ve done nothing wrong.”
NBA officials have said it would be at least two more weeks, following the issuance of formal allegations against Donald Sterling, before fellow owners would be in a position to judge whether their longest-tenured partner should be allowed to stay in place.
At least three-fourths of team owners must agree in order to separate Donald Sterling from the Clippers.
Silver said when he announced his sanctions against Donald Sterling that “there have been no decisions about other members of the Sterling family.” That would appear to provide some hope for Shelly Sterling to maintain her half-ownership, held in a family trust.
Analysts, however, say it could be difficult for Shelly Sterling to do so since it would be difficult to find anyone willing to bid for just 50% ownership of a team.