(NEW YORK) -- In what amounted to a pair of dueling interviews, Donald Sterling and his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, separately addressed the controversy surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers owner’s racist comments about African-Americans and his subsequent ban from the NBA.
Donald Sterling spoke to Anderson Cooper in an interview airing Monday on CNN in which he asked for “forgiveness,” adding, “Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years?”
He insisted to Cooper, “I am not a racist," but, “I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it.” Sterling said that it will be up to the owners to give him another chance. However, there are reports that if three-quarters vote to force him to sell the Clippers, he is expected to stage a legal fight to retain ownership.
As for why Sterling told his assistant V. Stiviano not to hang out with African-Americans, including Magic Johnson, in remarks that were recorded, the owner claims, “I'm jealous that she's with other black guys. I want her. So what the hell, can I in private tell her, you know, 'I don't want you to be with anybody'?"
Meanwhile, Shelly Sterling told ABC’s Barbara Walters that she doesn't love Donald Sterling: “I pity him and I feel sorry for him.”
She also suggested that the Clippers owner may be experiencing the “onset of dementia” since her estranged husband claims he didn’t “remember ever saying those things” after TMZ began running excerpts of the audio tape two weeks ago.
Shelly Sterling said possible dementia is no excuse for making racist remarks even though she never heard him make those kinds of comments before. She also denied making racists comments herself, as has been previously reported.
If the NBA makes Donald Sterling sell the team, Shelly Sterling said she would fight to retain her half of the franchise.
The couple has been married for sixty years, but for the past 20, Shelly Sterling says she’s sought a divorce and recently came close to filing a petition for divorce. However, given the recent developments involving the team, Shelly Sterling says her financial adviser urged her to hold off on filing the petition.
However, Shelly Sterling may not have a legal leg to stand on. In response to her statements about trying to retain her portion of the team, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, "Under the NBA Constitution, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a 3/4 vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well. It doesn't matter whether the owners are related as is the case here. These are the rules to which all NBA owners agreed to as a condition of owning their team."
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