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Sterling apologizes: 'I made a terrible, terrible mistake'

<p>(SportsNetwork.com) - Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is apologizing for his recent racist comments that drew a lifetime ban from the NBA.</p>

(SportsNetwork.com) - Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is apologizing for his recent racist comments that drew a lifetime ban from the NBA.

Sterling, in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, said he "is not a racist" and "made a terrible, terrible mistake" in making comments that were released by celebrity gossip website TMZ.com late last month.

TMZ.com posted nearly 10 minutes of an audio conversation between Sterling and his girlfriend, in which he tells V. Stiviano he is bothered by her association with African-Americans and asks her not to bring them to Clippers games.

A few days later, the NBA banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million. Commissioner Adam Silver added that he is urging fellow owners to force Sterling to sell the team.

Sterling had not spoken publicly since, but sat down with Cooper for an interview that was set to air Monday night. CNN released portions of the conversation on Monday morning.

"When I listen to that tape, I don't even know how I can say words like that," Sterling told Cooper. "I don't know why the girl had me say those things."

Cooper asked Sterling if he was set up and he answered affirmatively.

"Well yes, I was baited," Sterling added. "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."

The 80-year-old Sterling said he didn't apologize immediately because he didn't know "how to correct" the problem.

"I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness," Sterling said. "Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years (of association with the NBA)? 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."

Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, spoke with ABC's Barbara Walters, portions of which were posted Sunday, and said she wants to retain her 50 percent stake in the team in the event of a forced sale by other league owners.

"I will fight that decision," Shelly Sterling told Walters. "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? Or would they leave the husband in?"

The NBA, however, issued a statement after the interview and said if Sterling is forced to sell, Shelly would not be entitled to keep her share of the franchise.

"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," NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in the statement. "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."

An ownership vote on the Sterling matter is expected to take place in the near future.

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