Donald Sterling in his own words (excerpts of his CNN interview)

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Reading the words here will not do justice to them, to the delivery from Donald Sterling in his Monday night interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN.

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.”

Dejounte Murray added to growing Hawks injury report, out 2-3 weeks with sprained ankle

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John Collins is out for at least another week with a sprained ankle. DeAndre Hunter has been out with a strained hip flexor.

Now you can add Dejounte Murray to the Hawks’ growing injury report, he is out at least 2-3 weeks with a sprained ankle, Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

The injury happened on a closeout from RJ Barrett of the Knicks.

The Hawks have already had chemistry and fit issues this season, and missing key players for an extended period only exacerbates the problem. Atlanta looked flat getting their doors blown off by the Knicks Wednesday night, 113-89, a game that added to a string where they have lost 5-of-7. Now they will have to find a way to right the ship without their second-best playmaker.

There also is an update on the Hawks’ play-by-play announcer Bob Rathbun.

NBA, WNBA players react to news Brittney Griner coming home

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Brittney Griner is finally coming home.

The WNBA and USA Basketball star has spent 10 months in Russian prisons — including being convicted and sent to a Russian penal colony — for having vape canisters with small amounts of cannabis oil in her luggage as she went through Russian airport security back in February. She became a political pawn in the tensions between the United States and Russia, mostly surrounding Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, and was freed via a prisoner swap announced Thursday.

The basketball world — WNBA players in particular — had worked to keep her name front and not let Griner be forgotten during this ordeal, pushing President Joe Biden and the government to reach a deal. With the news Griner was freed, NBA and WNBA players took to social media to react.

“Brittney has had to endure an unimaginable situation and we’re thrilled that she is on her way home to her family and friends,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “We thank the members of the NBA and WNBA community who never wavered in their efforts to raise awareness of Brittney’s unjust circumstances.”

“We are overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that our sister Brittney Griner is finally coming home,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Her strength and courage throughout this last year have been truly remarkable, as have the efforts of her wife Cherelle, our WNBPA sisters, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, who have been relentless in their call to bring Brittney home. We know this homecoming would not have been possible without their unwavering support and continued work to keep BG always top of mind, and our players are honored to have contributed to those efforts. While this is a celebratory moment for our sisters and us, we must not forget the other political prisoners who remain in dire circumstances all over the world. These individuals must be remembered and fought for every single day as BG was so that they too can have this moment. Welcome home Brittney, we are so happy to have you back! #WeAreBG”

PBT Podcast: Lakers, Clippers, and Nikola Jokic as Beethoven

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Anthony Davis has played at an MVP level for weeks now, outdueling even Giannis Antetokounmpo recently in a Lakers’ win. LeBron James is still a force at age 37, Russell Westbrook has accepted the role and has been a game-changer as a sixth man, and the Lakers’ role players are hitting their 3-pointers.

It’s been an impressive run, but can the Lakers keep it up and be a genuine threat in the West? Corey Robinson of NBC Sports and I discuss all that, plus whether the now-healthy Clippers can find a groove and become a threat.

In Corey’s Jukebox he dances a little salsa and explains how Nikola Jokic is like Beethoven. Then there is talk of the Kyle Kuzma trade rumors, and what exactly are the long-term plans in Washington.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

WNBA star Brittney Griner freed in U.S.-Russia prisoner swap

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Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a dramatic prisoner exchange, as the U.S. released notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout but failed to win freedom for another American, Paul Whelan, who has been jailed for nearly four years.

The swap, at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine, achieved a top goal for President Joe Biden but carried a heavy price.

“She’s safe, she’s on a plane, she’s on her way home,” Biden said from the White House, where he was accompanied by Griner’s wife, Cherelle, and administration officials.

The deal, the second such exchange in eight months with Russia, procured the release of the most prominent American detained abroad. Griner is a two-time Olympic gold medalist whose monthslong imprisonment on drug charges brought unprecedented attention to the population of wrongful detainees.

Biden’s authorization to release a Russian felon once nicknamed “the Merchant of Death” underscored the escalating pressure that his administration faced to get Griner home, particularly after the recent resolution of her criminal case and her subsequent transfer to a penal colony.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also confirmed the swap, saying in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that the exchange took place in Abu-Dhabi and that Bout has been flown home Russian and U.S. officials had conveyed cautious optimism in recent weeks after months of strained negotiations, with Biden saying in November that he was hopeful that Russia would engage in a deal now that the midterm elections were completed. A top Russian official said last week that a deal was possible before year’s end.

Even so, the fact that the deal was a one-for-one swap was a surprise given that U.S. officials had for months expressed their their determination to bring home both Griner and Paul Whelan, a Michigan corporate security executive jailed in Russia since December 2018 on espionage charges that his family and the U.S. government has said are baseless.

“We’ve not forgotten about Paul Whelan,” Biden said. “We will keep negotiating in good faith for Paul’s release.”

Whelan’s brother David said in a statement he was “so glad” for Griner’s release but also disappointed for his family. He credited the White House with giving the Whelan family advance notice and said he did not fault officials for making the deal.

“The Biden Administration made the right decision to bring Ms. Griner home, and to make the deal that was possible, rather than waiting for one that wasn’t going to happen,” he said.

In releasing Bout, the U.S. freed a a former Soviet Army lieutenant colonel whom the Justice Department once described as one of the world’s most prolific arms dealers. Bout, whose exploits inspired a Hollywood movie, was serving a 25-year sentence on charges that he conspired to sell tens of millions of dollars in weapons that U.S officials said were to be used against Americans.

The Biden administration was ultimately willing to exchange Bout if it meant Griner’s freedom. The detention of one of the greatest players in WNBA history contributed to a swirl of unprecedented public attention for an individual detainee case — not to mention intense pressure on the White House.

Griner’s arrest in February made her the most high-profile American jailed abroad. Her status as an openly gay Black woman, locked up in a country where authorities have been hostile to the LBGTQ community, infused racial, gender and social dynamics into her legal saga and made each development a matter of international importance.

Her case not only brought unprecedented publicity to the dozens of Americans wrongfully detained by foreign governments, but it also emerged as a major inflection point in U.S.-Russia diplomacy at a time of deteriorating relations prompted by Moscow’s war against Ukraine.

The exchange was carried out despite deteriorating relations between the powers. But the imprisonment of Americans produced a rare diplomatic opening, yielding the highest-level known contact between Washington and Moscow — a phone call between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — in more than five months.

In an extraordinary move during otherwise secret negotiations, Blinken revealed publicly in July that the U.S. had made a “substantial proposal” to Russia for Griner and Whelan. Though he did not specify the terms, people familiar with it said the U.S. had offered Bout.

Such a public overture drew a chiding rebuke from the Russians, who said they preferred to resolve such cases in private, and carried the risk of weakening the U.S. government’s negotiating hand for this and future deals by making the administration appear too desperate. But the announcement was also meant to communicate to the public that Biden was doing what he could and to ensure pressure on the Russians.

Besides the efforts of U.S. officials, the release also followed months of back channel negotiations involving Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a frequent emissary in hostage talks, and his top deputy, Mickey Bergman.

Griner was arrested at the Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in February when customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage. She pleaded guilty in July, though still faced trial because admitting guilt in Russia’s judicial system does not automatically end a case.

She acknowledged in court that she possessed the canisters, but said she had no criminal intent and said their presence in her luggage was due to hasty packing.

Before being sentenced on Aug. 4 and receiving a punishment her lawyers said was out of line for the offense, an emotional Griner apologized “for my mistake that I made and the embarrassment that I brought on them.” She added: “I hope in your ruling it does not end my life.”

Her supporters had largely stayed quiet for weeks after her arrest, but that approach changed in May once the State Department designated her as unlawfully detained. A separate trade, Marine veteran Trevor Reed for Konstantin Yaroshenko, a Russian pilot convicted in the U.S. in a cocaine trafficking conspiracy, spurred hope that additional such exchanges could be in the works.

Whelan has been held in Russia since December 2018. The U.S. government also classified him as wrongfully detained. He was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison.

Whelan was not included in the Reed prisoner swap, escalating pressure on the Biden administration to ensure that any deal that brought home Griner also included him.