Donald Sterling is breaking his silence.
Nearly two weeks after the NBA fined him and banned him for life after he made racist remarks in a recorded conversation, the former Clippers owner taped an interview for CNN's AC360 airing Monday. "I'm not a racist," Donald told Anderson Cooper. "I made a terrible mistake. I'm here to apologize."
In his first interview since being fired, Donald pleaded for empathy. "I'm a good member who made a mistake," Donald said. "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."
Donald said he waited to publicly apologize because he was "emotionally distraught."
"The reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong," he explained. "I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it."
He would consider returning to to league, however. "If the owners feel I have another chance, then they'll give it to me," he said.
Does he blame V. Stiviano for releasing the tapes? "I don't know. An 80-year-old man is kind of foolish, and I'm kind of foolish. I thought she liked me and really cared for me," he said. "I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself...I just wish I could ask her why, and if she was just setting me up."
"You're saying you were set up?" Cooper asked.
"Well yes, I was baited," Donald said. "I mean, that's not the way I talk. I don't talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things. I don't talk about people."
In one audio recording, Donald chastized Stiviano for taking pictures with African-Americans, including Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, and sharing them via her social media accounts. Donald told CNN he's spoken twice with Johnson. "Did you apologize to him?" Cooper asked.
"If I said anything wrong, I'm sorry," Donald said. "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."
On Sunday, ABC News posted excerpts of an interview his estranged wife gave to Barbara Walters. Shelly Sterling vowed to fight to keep her 50 percent ownership stake of the team. "To be honest with you, I'm wondering if a wife of one of the owners, and there's 30 owners, did something like that, said those racial slurs, would they oust the husband?" she asked. Or would they leave the husband in?"
"I don't know why I should be punished for what his actions were," she added.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass released a statement Sunday night in response to Shelly's comments.
"Under the NBA constitution, if a controlling owner's interest is terminated by a three-quarter vote, all other team owners' interests are automatically terminated as well," Bass said. "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."
Shelly's attorney, Pierce O'Donnell, swiftly responded to the NBA's statement.
"We do not agree with the league's self-serving interpretation of its constitution, its application to Shelly Sterling or its validity under these unique circumstances," O'Donnell said. "We live in a nation of laws. California law and the United States Constitution trump any such interpretation."
In the interview, Shelly also cleared her name. "I'm not a racist," she said. "I've never been a racist."
Meanwhile, Shelly told Walters that she plans to divorce Donald "eventually."
"For the last 20 years, I've been seeing attorneys for a divorce," she revealed. "In fact, I have here—I just filed—I was going to file the petition. I signed the petition for a divorce. And it came to almost being filed. And then, my financial adviser and my attorney said to me, 'Not now.'"
Throughout their 60-year marriage, Shelly said her husband was "not really around a lot." She added that the billionaire real estate mogul was "emotionally abusive and verbally abusive" during their union. "I don't love him," she told Walters. "I pity him and I feel sorry for him."