To read it is to miss a performance that was both on and off script, at times sincere, at times defiant, at times whiny and at times just disconnected from the reality of his situation. It didn’t seem possible he could make his public relations situation worse, but here we are.
Here is Donald Sterling in his own words (this is not a complete transcript, but you get much of the interview and the “highlights.”
• First, here is his apology, which he said several times in similar forms.
“I’m not a racist. I made a terrible, terrible mistake and I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I’ve hurt. And I’ve hurt so many people, so many innocent people. And I’ve hurt myself. I spoke to a girl I was fond of and I don’t know why, when I listened to that tape, I don’t even know how I could say words like that. I’m not a racist. I love people. I always have. But those words came out of my mouth, I guess, and I’m so sorry, and I’m so apologetic.”
“I’m sorry that people are hurt. My little grandchild goes to a Catholic nursery school, and they were passing around candy to everybody, and when they got to her they said, ‘we don’t give candy to racists.’ Seven and nine. So it hurt me. I hurt my ex-wife (Shelly, his estranged wife, they are still married although she has said she may file for divorce). She is a beautiful person…
“I never dreamt this could happen, it’s a terrible, terrible nightmare….
“I can’t explain some of the foolish, stupid, uneducated words that I uttered. I don’t know, you get upset and you say something stupid.”
• Sterling denied being a called racist and having a “plantation mentality” (to use former Clippers GM Elgin Baylor’s words):
“I think you have more of a plantation mentality than I do (he said to Cooper). I think you’re more of a racist than I am. I am not a racist and I’ve never been a racist and I’ll never be a racist. I don’t know what that means, that kind of mentality.”
“I think I create an opportunity for them to make $100 million. I don’t give them anything, believe me. And those players could get that same amount of money anywhere else… Of course they earn it.”
• Sterling said he did not know he was being recorded by V. Stiviano, his former companion/mistress. He also said he was jealous because she said she was bringing “black players (athletes) to the game with her:
“And she was talking so strange, all of a sudden about politics. But I want to explain a couple things that I said. I said ‘don’t bring blacks to my games,’ well there’s 25 percent of my home game are black people and I love them….
“And I said to her ‘Don’t bring them to the game’ because of my jealousy. But she never brought anybody to the game. It was like she was baiting me to say things…
“I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself.”
• On backwards warm-ups worn by Clippers players the first game after the recording was released, where the players would not show the team logo. Sterling believes the Clippers players and fans are still with him, that this is all driven by the media.
“I didn’t pay attention to (the reversed warm-ups), because they are Clippers. They are mine and I am theirs. That’s how I feel. I would do anything for them. I made a mistake. I hope it’s in their heart to forgive me.”
“The players don’t hate me. The sponsors don’t hate me. The fans don’t hate me. The media hates me, it’s all the media. I believe it 100 percent. People call me by the thousands and give me support. They don’t say I should have said that.”
• On the feelings of the other owners (all 29 have come out in support of Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to
“I wanted to apologize to my partners, I have 29 partners in the league, a wonderful league, I respect them and I love every owner, and every owner knows me. I love the commissioner. I’m sure it’s terribly difficult for him to impose severe punishment because he knows me so well, but he really is trying his best. The league actually believes in doing everything it its power to eliminate it, racism, and he’s sitting there behind his desk, I guess, and this explosion comes on his desk and I feel bad that I caused it.
• On whether he will fight this in court.
“I apologize to the league. There are people that want me to hire a lot of lawyers, that want them to hire a lot of lawyers, and to go to war. I don’t think that’s answer. I think the answer is the league is a good league, all honest people, I think whatever they decide has to be done, I should work with them and do it.”
“I’ve talked to some of the other owners… Of course they support me. They can’t understand why I would say that, I can’t understand why I would say that.”
If voted out will he file a lawsuit?
“We’re not there yet so why address that issue. I don’t want to fight with my partners, we all do what we have to do in life. I love them and respect them and whatever their decision is regarding the disposition of my terrible words, then I have to do it I think.”
• Sterling’s rant on Magic Johnson (which drew an angry response from Commissioner Adam Silver):
“He acts so holy. He made love to every girl in every city in America and he had AIDS. And when he had those AIDS I went to my synagogue and prayed for him. I hope he could live and be well. I didn’t criticize him. I could have. Is he an example for children? Because he has money he is able to treat himself…. He is irrelevant in this thing….
He said Magic called him up and say don’t say anything and he would help him.
<em>Sterling: “I think he wanted me to just do nothing so he could buy the team. He thought maybe the whole thing would be resolved in two weeks. What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?
Anderson: Well, he’s a business person…
Sterling: “He’s got AIDS. Did he do any business? Did he help anybody in South LA?… What kind of a guy goes to every city and has sex with every girl and he catches it, HIV, is that somebody we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. What does he do for the black people? The Jewish people have a company, it’s for people who want to borrow money at no interest. We want to give them a fishing pole. We want to help people. You don’t have any money, we’ll loan it to you, without any interest. One day you’ll pay us back. I’m just telling you he does nothing, he’s all talk.”
• On V. Stiviano (his former mistress he speaks to on the recording).
“She is a beautiful person…
“I thought she cared for me. How could she care for a man 51 years older (he cries). She didn’t or she would;t have released those tapes. She’s not a bad person. She has to survive, she’s a street person, but inside she’s a sweet person.
“Whatever she did good or bad, I’m the guilty one for uttering those terrible, ugly words that I don’t mean.
• On the possibility of other recordings
“I don’t know what else she baited me to say.”
“I just would like to know why she did it. It’s like a woman stabbing you in the chest. Or shooting you. And sometimes women say ‘I love him’ and then they kill him.”