Donald Sterling speaks: “I wish I had just paid her off”


Donald Sterling with V. Stiviano (right) last fall. (Mark J. Terrill / AP)

Just what does Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers’ embattled owner, think of the recording that captured his racist comments and led to a lifetime ban from the NBA?

“I wish I had just paid her off,” Sterling said of V. Stiviano, the woman to whom he made the comments, according to a Los Angeles lifestyle magazine. DuJour magazine released the brief comment from what it says is an exclusive interview with Sterling, who is being pushed to sell the team as part of his punishment. Jason Binn, who quoted Sterling, said the owner “expressed remorse,” but no other quotes were provided by the publication. It also reported that he said he would speak with Barbara Walters, but ABC has announced no interview.

On Friday night, in an interview with Walters, Stiviano said she thinks Sterling is not a racist and feels isolated. “I think he feels very alone, not truly supported by those around him. Tormented, emotionally traumatized. I’m with him in a state of where I want to help him, urging him to come to his own rescue. But even so, I think he feels that he’s alone.”

The comment attributed to Sterling is the first since the Clippers released a statement on Saturday, after TMZ published the recording. The response then was defiant — and attributed to Andy Roeser, the Clippers president who is now running the team. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne describes the debate then over what to say to defuse the increasingly volatile problem:

Roeser hired an outside consultant to help craft a statement to respond to the tapes on Saturday. They discussed and weighed three different messages. The first was to cop to everything. Say that Sterling was sick, that he needed help, that he apologized and felt terrible for offending anyone. The second was to dispute the veracity of the tapes, question the motives of the woman on the tapes and why they were released, and argue that what’s said on them misrepresents Sterling’s true feelings. The third was to say very little except that the team would cooperate with the NBA investigation. Roeser felt the third message was the best option. Sterling did not. They went with defiance, and they stuck Roeser’s name on it.

“We have heard the tape on TMZ. We do not know if it is legitimate or it has been altered,” the statement read. “We do know that the woman on the tape — who we believe released it to TMZ — is the defendant in a lawsuit brought by the Sterling family alleging that she embezzled more than $1.8 million, who told Mr. Sterling that she would ‘get even.’ Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them. He is also upset and apologizes for sentiments attributed to him about Earvin Johnson. He has long considered Magic a friend and has only the utmost respect and admiration for him — both in terms of who he is and what he has achieved. We are investigating this matter.”

In the Walters interview, Stiviano suggested a simple response for Sterling: an apology. “I think he can’t even believe or understand sometimes the thing he says, and I think he’s hurt by it. He’s hurting right now.”

As for whether he might apologize, Stiviano replied: “God only knows.”

Walters asked Stiviano about their relationship and Stiviano replied:I’m his right-hand arm man. I’m his best friend, his confidant. His silly rabbit.”

Yes, his silly rabbit.

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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