May 12th, 2014
10:44 AM ET

Donald Sterling speaks exclusively to Anderson Cooper

Donald Sterling is doing much more than just apologizing in his exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper. The L.A. Clippers owner is speaking out publicly for the first time since recordings of his racist remarks led to a lifetime ban from the NBA.

Sterling addresses the remarks, which he referred to as "one mistake after 35 years." He tells Anderson he waited so long to publicly apologize saying, "I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it."
Some of Sterling's most surprising comments were about basketball legend Magic Johnson. Sterling was heard on the audiotape telling his friend V. Stiviano that he did not want her taking photos with African-Americans including Johnson. In the AC360 interivew, Sterling says he has spoken to Johnson and told him "If I said anyting wrong I'm sorry." Sterling then called Johnson a "good man," but also said "I don't think he's a good example for the children of Los Angeles."

Sterling also spoke about his love of the Clippers. When Anderson asked about the team protesting him by practicing for a playoff game by turning their jerseys inside out, Sterling said, "I really didn't pay attention to it. They are Clippers and they are mine, and I'm theirs.”

When it comes to the racist remarks he made to V. Stiviano, Sterling defended his actions saying, "I was baited, it’s not the way I talk."

Anderson Cooper and Donald Sterling spoke for well over an hour. Anderson said he found Sterling to be "well aware of everything he is saying.” Anderson discussed the inside story of his interview on CNN's New Day.

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  1. lulunw

    I think Donald Sterling is racist. I also think he's got dementia (I do have a bit of experience with the disease.) Dementia is not an excuse to what he said and did (especially some past actions of his I've just found out about in the last few weeks – frankly, I don't quite care about sports teams owners.) His wife should request a detailed physical to be performed by a gerontologist. This guy needs memory care, not a girlfriend or an interview on CNN where Anderson Cooper 'diagnoses" him as fit, which he's obviously not. And by the way, dementia simply loosens one's inhibitions, it does not transform people into racists.

    May 15, 2014 at 12:17 am |
  2. cathykarney

    I am so Angry that this post will Not be as well written as I would like!
    Who are "MY PEOPLE" Mr. Johnson?
    I agree, this is Not Mr. Cooper's best reporting. It does seem like he is nagging this on.
    What about "THE OTHER PEOPLE" ... White People? If a white person came on & said I want to help my people ... what would happen?
    I have written to Oprah, Dr. Oz, The Dr's show, Mr Cooper etc & get NO response.
    I worked with a lady who was attacked by a patient while she was working in the ER. She is a RN. He happened to be an illegal immigrant. He permanently injured her neck, back, arm, shoulder etc. BUT worse he busted her teeth out. Work comp dentist did not fix them correctly & she had to have them pulled .... around 10 or so. She spent her life savings trying to get them repaired, but needs implants. Dentures won't work .... that is a long story I don't really understand. This happened in 2007. How many single Nurses can live that long without working? Every time she went to work she was BULLIED by co workers. She will be homeless at the end of this month. She is under 100lbs, has chronic pain & dangerous lab levels .. her heart could stop anytime. Who hires a nurse with missing teeth? How about someone helping a white lady!! I just heard Mr. Johnson say "what did I do to deserve this". Are you kidding me!! What did she do to be beaten by a drug crazed illegal immigrant! He got FREE medical care & a really nice lady has lost everything she worked for. There are a lot of injured Nurses who need help .... Black, White, Red, etc .... why doesn't anyone step up & help them? OMG ....if I hear "my people" one more time I am going to explode!!! Who helps the "White folks"? If I were rich & said I want to help my people ... & since I'm white what would happen to me. One final thing ... this lady was volunteering until she become too weak .... for both black & white people. Anyone want to help a Nurse get her teeth back ... she's White??

    May 13, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
  3. ckt54

    I have not seen or heard any proof of Shelley doing what you claim. All I've heard on CNN by the talking heads say they don't feel the family should keep the team because and I quote, 'that she shelly should have known he was a racist' is the reason they 're saying she should be forced to sell team. There are also other family members who havn't done anything wrong. IT should sicken you that the team can be taken away from other family members who have done nothing wrong. Didn't know in this country if a family member rants or commits a crime that the entire family is villified for it. You should not be name calling us ignorant. I don't believe any of us resorted to name calling as you have. Don't understand if you're so smart and know so much more and we are ignorant than I'm sure CNN would have had you on as one of their talking heads. What happened, I guess CNN isn't listening to you or don't think you know as much as you think you do. Leave Sterling alone he is an old sick cancer laden man with dementia. At least go after someone who has the mental capability of you or someone who can defend themselves.

    May 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
  4. bowldsbrendonbboi7581

    I think the comment sections I read sicken me on a multitude of levels. I'll start by addressing people's ignorance about business law and the first amendment.
    Sterling, as an owner that is part of a larger organization basically makes up 1/32 owners, probably less, in the NBA. He is, at best a minority owner, or partner. Partners sign partnership agreements, something similar to the NBA bi-laws. Now, the NBA previously only got involved in the personal life of players, so why now the personal life of an owner?
    It states that any outside the NBA dealings, by an owner whose dealings effect the day to day business of the NBA can be disciplined the same as if it were done to the organization. How far, well the NBA bilaws state that an owner may be removed for anything termed as bad for business. Threat of a boycott, sponsors dropping, these are all bad for business.
    To move to Shelley, the NBA states that if an owner is removed, all partners must sell their share of the team as well.
    All these documents were signed by Donald Sterling. So, now that we know they are legally justified, how can you defend him morally? How deep does it go?
    1. This is an instance, that is small, but any reason for removing someone of their formal power deals with, do you empower someone with this mentality and not worry about the consequences? Who can honestly say no to that.
    2. This is nothing compared to the ways they have effected society with their criminal acts of discrimination, not to mention the multiple unproven claims that are becoming increasingly more likely.
    3. He has a history of discrimination within the NBA

    To move to the reason the family shouldn't be allowed to retain ownership on moral grounds.

    1. He would essentially become a silent owner if family retains the Clippers
    2. Shelly Sterling, has been caught with acts of discrimination on multiple occasions. The most recent disgusting one is footage of her posing as a federal inspector. She did this to see the ethnicities of the people living in their rental properties. Once she found out who was what color, she would claim they never received checks from these people so they could be evicted.

    May 13, 2014 at 9:37 am |
    • freedomlover777

      How many pro ball players have said abhorrent and stupid remarks in their personal time, or even worse, behaved badly or had minor infractions with the law and still came back to play? Anderson Cooper, why no coverage on this? For most of my life as I've thought to myself or said to friends, that ball player sets a bad example. The fact is though, nobody cared, they were good ball players, they brought in the money.

      Whether Sterling is racist or not, the equal opportunity employment and housing laws in the US provide a fair and legal framework to give people of all races access to work, housing, etc. People who break those laws should pay the penalty and it sounds like Sterling has in a few cases. While his contract with the Clippers is written in a manner that is left to subjective opinion about whether his partners want to continue to do business with him based on his personal conduct, he has not in this case actually broken the law in expressing in private any opinion, nor even as it was broadcasted publicly.

      And what about freedom of speech? Is a person not entitled to private opinions, conversations and beliefs? I believe it is in fact illegal to ask someone in an interview what their religious or political beliefs are. To base an employment decision on someone's personal belief system is to my knowledge, against the law and well it should be. I don't want my employer delving into my private life, what kind of movies I watch, medicine I take or personal hobbies (presumably legal), etc. It is not my employer's business the nature and content of a private conversation I have with my boyfriend concerning our interracial differences or anything else. That's for us to sort out.

      I fear for this country if big brother, or corporate CEO's with their legal/employment contracts attempt to control mine or anyone's personal life and make my employment contingent upon not saying anything that they deem unsuitable. That's not only censorship, it's Maoist Communism all over again. People in this country need to go read and watch more documentaries about Mao's communism and his little red books that told people how to think and speak and conduct themselves instead of letting religion and the natural forces of human relationships sort out morality and how we conduct our personal lives. Let us not forget that in 1989 peaceful, unarmed pro-demacracy demonstrators attempted to merely speak their opposing opinions freely (millions and millions of people) and were ruthlessly shot and many killed by the communist dictators who would not allow for an opposing point of view.

      Please let us not forget, please, the importance of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, opinions and ideas. Please let us remember the movie and famous case of "The People vs. Larry Flint" in which the judicial system rightly defended our first amendment rights even if the content, words or material are against what some of us believe or find palatable. Even if I detest someone's opinion, in this country people are allowed to say it regardless without the fear of going to prison or getting shot or stoned to death, thank God. In other countries, less civilized, they shoot either over personal opinions that differ or religious beliefs that differ or cultural practices that differ.

      Let us not forget, that culture helps define who we are and if we are part of one cultural / ethnic group, we may choose, handed down from generation to generation in many cases, to live our lives a certain way that is at odds with the way other cultural groups choose to live their lives. (Take the United States for example, in which we did abolish slavery and have set fair minimum wages, unlike Inida for example that still treats the lower classes almost like slaves in that many states only require maybe 50 cents an hour or day as a minimum wage yet the cost of living is similar to here – it's no wonder so many people are living in extreme poverty in India, in cardboard boxes and begging for a living. That's nearly slavery if you ask me and not aligned with my cultural beliefs.)

      May 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm |
      • freedomlover777

        I wasn't finished. My point is this: If you want to accuse someone of being a modern day slave-master, Mr. Sterling is not as good an example as the upper class of India to whom our corporate leaders are giving what otherwise might be jobs for Americans, Black, White, Hispanic, etc. in this country. I've actually met people who have come to the US to work and brought their live-in servant and have stated that in their culture room and board is enough of pay. It's the law in this country that domestic workers be paid the higher of state or federal minimum wages!

        As far as I am aware, I may be wrong, but I thought Mr. Sterling not only employed non-whites, he also pays them the market rate which is a heck of a lot more than I am making as an upper middle class corporate employee.

        As a contract employee, I face discrimination in the workplace based on that status. Some days I wonder when they will demand that us contractors start using separate bathrooms than full time employees. Wow. Times have changed.

        I really sincerely believe that if people want to fight the cause of abolishing slavery in the world, India is an important place to look. Grave disparity is rather engrained in their culture and if you ask many Indians who have rather plenty, they will tell you the poor are happy that way, they are complacent, they don't need a lot.

        As a white American, I reserve might first amendment right to freedom of speech and thereby implicitly my freedom of an opinion on anything, including cultural differences. Whereas my boyfriend is actually from India and I love him dearly, we have tense discussions about cultural differences on occasion, sometimes we agree and sometimes we agree to disagree, but we love each other very much regardless. He often says that "democracy is messy". I would argue that so so are love, personal relationships and co-mingling of cultures and if we can't talk about racial and cultural differences in our most intimate of settings and feel safe and even make jokes or make light of bad situations sometimes, then what hope do we have as a human race?

        May 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm |
        • freedomlover777

          Your coverage of this Subject, Mr. Cooper, has not been up to your usual quality and falls far below my expectations.

          May 13, 2014 at 8:54 pm |
          • cathykarney

            Sadly, I have to agree! I use to really enjoy watching Anderson!

            May 13, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
            • freedomlover777

              I do believe Anderson is one of the best out there, along with the gang at 60 minutes, but I think the coverage of this is slanted to a specific demographic and could be more balanced. It's very difficult to avoid sounding racist, I know, if you aren't completely in favor of what is "politically correct or aligned to popular propaganda". I am actually very sympathetic to Jewish people and survivors of the haulocost and those who were torchured and killed, but to me hollywood seems a bit racist these days given the quantity and persistence to produce films about Germany that focus only on the Holocaust, Nazis and Hitler. It's a very negative campaign against Germans and German-American's, many of whose ancestors fought against Germany in WWII. What I don't understand is why the focus has not shifted to make films about more recent genocide in the world happening in Sudan and the Middle East for example, or on how and why so many people died under Mao's reign in communist China. Not one movie from hollywood about Mao to my knowledge. Chinese producers have made one film, "To Live". Only one though? I've found only a couple of documentaries about Mao and Chinese history on Amazon. Come on! Mao killed millions of people. I hope that Anderson reads this as I think that he is capable of tackling these tough race-ralated subjects in a way that is objective and fair.

              May 14, 2014 at 10:51 am |
          • freedomlover777

            I just would have liked to see more coverage on bad behavior of ball players across sports and of all races, whites included. I don't know if O.J. Simpson is a good example or not, but I am certain some others are. I just keep thinking of that verse in the bible that says he who is free of sin be the first to cast the stone to kill the sinful adulteress. Nobody threw any stones. I'm not saying all ball players are bad and I'm not saying Sterling hasn't been accused or found guilty before of discrimination. But he isn't the first in sports to behave badly in his personal life. Also, if he is going to be characterized as a slave master, what about all the corporate executives here in this country who send jobs and work to sweatshops overseas in countries where workers don't have same rights as here? Poor working conditions and wages so low people can't afford proper food, housing, education and a chance to save some money for life and retirement is not that much different than slavery. Corporate executives who do this are not much different than slave masters to me. Often they are not doing much to affect change for better working conditions and fair minimum wages in most countries to which they move operations. Just some additional food for thought.

            May 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • bowldsbrendonbboi7581

        You really want to go there.
        1. He has multiple claims open by the NBA.
        2. Freedom of speech means that you have the freedom for the government not to intervene. Please know the constitution before trying to construct an argument using the constitution.
        3. An organization has the right to do what is best for the organization. He is 1/30, of all owners. Having one owner who will cause a loss of sponsors and threat of a league wide boycott is not worth saving just to protect his right to be a bigot, without consequences.
        4. You are never allowed freedom of speech without consequences, you typed something, I attached meaning as a consequence to what you have said.
        5.You bring up players, this is the first time that an owner has faced consequences for off court activities, yet players are constantly suspended for their actions. Why? Because his off the court issues dealt with day to day business.
        6. Again, with players, they have no formal power. One may gain personal power, which can't be removed. However, they have no formal power. Which is why Riley Cooper of the Philadelphia Eagles is allowed to go on a racist rant, and not face any league wide consequence. Donald Sterling has formal power, therefore the beliefs and values he holds has influence over other by his actions. He has a past history within the NBA of discrimination towards players, coaches, and front office personnel. Reason why players can have these beliefs and never act on them, they have no formal power at all.
        7. There really is no defensible position on this matter for this man. If you just say your racist, and that's why you like him, I would have to respect that. However, to claim that an entire organization should have to suffer for his actions, is indefensible on any grounds. Legally, he signed it, he has to live with it.

        May 13, 2014 at 9:24 pm |
        • freedomlover777

          I don't deny that legally his business partners have the right to make a subjective decision that this guy is bad for their image and pro sports. To be honest, if there are tangible acts and evidence of his discrimination within the NBA as part of his work and ownership, then he deserves to be confronted and actions taken to remedy the situation. But I don't think the focus should be on details of a private conversation in his personal life aired publicly. Lots of people talk about race in their private lives, not just whites, but African Americans, Latinos, Chinese, etc. and say things about other races in private that would cause a stir on national TV. I think it's important that people have the freedom to disagree and tolerate differences of opinions and engage in conversations about race and culture to find some common ground. I wouldn't be able to be in an interracial relationship if we couldn't feel comfortable discussing different points of view. Sometimes we change each other's points of view and sometimes we clear up misconceptions. I think this is much healthier than suppressing speech and avoiding the uncomfortable topics. But this means we need to allow for opinions we disagree with and sometimes that may mean the end of a relationship or people find a better common ground and mutual understanding as a result.

          My concern, and maybe this is just the spark or catalyst in this case, was that if the impetus for his removal from NBA ownership is based only on a private conversation with his girlfriend that was aired publicly without his consent, then he deserves some leeway on the grounds of freedom of speech. It sounds like there is a lot more to it than that, but I think it's worth discussing freedom of speech and right to a private life as a side conversation here.

          If someone put in my employment contract that I could not have any discussion about racial differences with anyone in my private life, I would find that unacceptable. If anyone put restrictions in my employment contract that I have to hold certain beliefs or opinions, I would find that unacceptable. If someone does attempt to put such restrictions in my employment contract, I would expect that they also put in restrictions for all of my colleagues that they also cannot in their personal time or space participate in, watch, read or listen to offensive rap music and pornography that objectifies women and is morally objectionable to me.

          But where do you draw the line then? What if someone else has some religious belief and intolerance to my religion? Do you put that in the contract too? Or let's say someone has a dislike of hunters or gun owners, do you put in the employment agreement that employees are not allowed to participate in gun ownership and hunting in their private time and life?

          This is my concern, not to defend a man who may have actually committed illegal discriminatory acts in his professional sphere.

          May 14, 2014 at 10:19 am |
          • freedomlover777

            I'm betting half the NBA, players and owners alike look at porn in their personal time. That's grounds right there for me and other women to boycott.

            May 14, 2014 at 10:35 am |
          • bowldsbrendonbboi7581

            Would you sign a contract that states if your private discussions coincide with day to day functions you would be forced to sell? My guess is that most people would. You make a profit, and don't lose anything. Not fired, you are forced to make money. However, you slice it, it was a business decision and is justified as a business decision.
            From a morale standpoint, if you are a leader and given formal power, we hope that your beliefs that you hold that guide your decisions are that of someone of good character as the people who work for you are the one's who may suffer the consequences. One coach, had his house burned down by a group of racist individuals, should he have to work for a racist?
            You are looking at only one side of this, his. Not seeing how his beliefs affect the others who have to work for him. No, and not all million dollar athletes either. All personnel. has to work for him.

            May 14, 2014 at 11:17 am |
  5. lperk56

    Shame on someone, and at this point, as ridiculous as he is, it's not Donald Sterling. Why is there so much focus on him as an individual, instead of using this as a more powerful platform to discuss racism in America? Or other important topics such as poverty, hunger, and education. The same silliness has been played all day, over and over. As I sit here watching my co-worker worry and wait all day to find out if her African-American 40 year old husband will get a minimum wage job at Walmart today, I shake my head and wonder where are the priorities in journalism. I have always been a CNN fan, and I am very disappointed. If every half hour you announced the number of children who have been shot or the number of children who died of hunger I am thinking the world would be better served.

    May 12, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
    • ckt54

      Oh, I would agree with you. A white mother of four young school aged children evicted from her home. No place offered except bug infested, drug and gang filled housing. Thru no fault of her own she is in this situation with her 4 children. She would rather sleep in car than have her 4 children in such dangerous and drug infested area.

      May 12, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
      • bowldsbrendonbboi7581

        Then you have to love how Sterling has participated in making that situation worst, check this out. Pulitzer material

        May 13, 2014 at 9:46 am |
    • bowldsbrendonbboi7581

      I agree and disagree. I think it's time to see what he's done with his positional power, and that these are very real situations. People are focused on just his comments, but not enough on his crimes. I really enjoyed this piece by Bomani Jones, and I think everyone should hear why this instance, is literally nothing, but he should have been removed long ago.


      It goes far beyond jobs, but how people like him hold minorities back as a whole

      May 13, 2014 at 9:44 am |
  6. ckt54

    Shame on you CNN for your inflaming,inciting, and vilifying an entire family to force the sale of the team to Oprah, Magic, and others that you have decided should own the team. Thru you and the talking heads you have had on your station you have started this campaign against the family. Since when in this country are we responsible for the rantings of a family member?You claim because the wife and family should have or had to know he was a racists so therefore they have to sell. This reasoning is not legal to force family to sell so you start a media campaign to inflame,incite, and intimidate The NBA, Sponsors,Players,Public Opinion, to force sell of team to your chosen new owners, to whom I might add since day one have been out in public stating they were going to buy team.ie Oprah, Magic,etc You know you can't legally force his wife and family to sell so you CNN start a smear campaign to bully and intimidate. This is still America. I'm praying you don't get away with stealing this team from the family. God Bless America

    May 12, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
    • bowldsbrendonbboi7581

      Seriously? I don't think they have explained the degree to which their racism has harmed society as a whole. I don't know much about the daughter, or the son-in-law, but Shelly and Donald Sterling have both done real crimes, both in and out of the NBA. No one talks about that though. They talk about how hurtful these comments are. Which we hope to not have to work for people with this mentality towards us, but they have caused real problems in America. The NBA are legally justified in their actions, so how can you morally justify your defense of this force of sale?

      May 13, 2014 at 9:18 am |
  7. gvamulvem1

    No one mentions that Donald Sterling on the first tape stated that he admired Magic Johnson - I am not condoning him by any means but his good words should receive equal time.

    Mark Mulvey

    May 12, 2014 at 11:10 am |
    • ckt54

      I have no intention of watching the interview tonight with AC. I have seen enough snippets of it today. This interview confirms that the family has no control over what Donald says or does. To steal the team from family by forcing them to sell because they should have known he was like this is BS. This is a clear sign of a man who is old,unhealthy and has dementia. AC is salivating and drooling over this. Sad so sad! This is all about CNN and their talking heads making the Sterling family sell to Oprah, Magic Johnson, and other African Americans not about doing the doing the right thing!

      May 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • bowldsbrendonbboi7581

        you understand that his family isnt exactly clean right? you also hopefully understand that removing all parties is part of the process? hopefully you understand shelly"s criminal actions as well

        May 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm |

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