Embattled Clippers owner Donald Sterling said that he is "not a racist" in an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper in what may be the start of an apology tour.
Sterling, who was banned from the NBA after a recording of him making racist comments surfaced, told Cooper that he "made a terrible mistake."
"I'm a good member who made a mistake and I'm apologizing and I'm asking for forgiveness,"he said in an interview set to air on Monday, according to excerpts posted on the network's website. "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."
The statements made in the interview are the first public comments that Sterling has made since being banned from the league, though a recording allegedly of him talking to a friend about the fallout surfaced last week.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also fined Sterling, the league's longest tenured owner, $2.5 million and said he would encourage the other NBA owners to force him to sell the team. Players across the NBA have suggested they would boycott if Silver did not sell the team.
Sterling told Cooper he was "distraught."
"The reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it," he said.
In an interview with ABC News, Sterling's wife Shelly said she would fight to keep ownership of the team. Silver had not said if he would encourage owners to stop another member of the Sterling family from taking the team, though many players have also expressed that they wouldn't be happy with her owning the team.
"I will fight that decision," Shelly Sterling said, according to excerpts of the interview posted on the ABC News website. "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?
"I don't know why I should be punished for what his actions were."