- POSTED: 03 May 2014 15:48
- UPDATED: 03 May 2014 15:49
Donald Sterling, the embattled owner of the Los Angeles Clippers banned for life by the NBA after making racist comments, has broken his silence about the scandal.
LOS ANGELES: Donald Sterling, the embattled owner of the Los Angeles Clippers banned for life by the NBA after making racist comments, has broken his silence about the scandal.
Online magazine duJour reported Friday that Sterling said, "I wish I had just paid her off," referring to his girlfriend, identified only as V. Stiviano.
The 80-year-old billionaire was caught speaking with Stiviano and making racist comments on a recording made public last weekend.
The recording touched off a firestorm that led NBA commissioner Adam Silver to banish Sterling from the league for life.
On the recording, Sterling said he did not want Stiviano -- who describes herself as the magnate's "personal assistant" -- to bring black people to his game, and asked her not to post pictures of herself with African Americans on social media websites.
Stiviano spoke to the ABC News program "20/20" late Friday, saying she thought Sterling should apologize but whether or not he would, "Only God knows."
"I think he feels very alone, not truly supported by those around him. Tormented, emotionally traumatized," Stiviano said of Sterling.
She denied being Sterling's "mistress" and said that she loved him "like a father figure."
"I'm with him in a state where I want to help him, urging him to come to his own rescue."
"I think Mr. Sterling is from a different generation than I am," she told ABC.
"I think he was brought up to believe these things ... segregation, whites and blacks."
But according to Stiviano, "through his actions he's shown that he's not a racist. He's shown to be a very generous and kind man."
Stiviano also said that there were "a number of other hours" of recordings "that the world doesn't know."
In March Sterling's wife Rochelle sued Stiviano, claiming that she has received millions of dollars in gifts from the billionaire that need to be returned.
Separately, ESPN and the New York Post reported that Sterling has prostate cancer.
In a related scandal, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, the leading US African-American civil rights organization, received a new leader Friday after Leon Jenkins resigned Thursday following questions over his relationship with Sterling.
The disgraced billionaire was set to receive a humanitarian award from the NAACP -- an honour revoked in the wake of Sterling's racist comments.
"We will determine the shortcomings that enabled Donald Sterling to receive or be considered for any awards," interim president Lorraine Miller wrote in a message. "We will prevent this from happening again."
The NAACP is also returning a donation from Sterling.
"We recognize the need for all our units to have the resources to serve their communities, but we must not allow that need to compromise our founding principles," Miller wrote.
Sterling, a real estate tycoon who bought the NBA team in 1981, is the longest-tenured owner in the league, but fellow team owners have started the process of stripping the team from him.
A 75 per cent vote of the other 29 NBA owners is required to remove the team from Sterling, but the threat could push him to sell the team or take the NBA to court over the matter, potentially setting up a long legal battle.
Sterling, who bought the team for US$12 million, could sell it for at least $600 million, with several celebrities and billionaires having already indicated an interest in owning the Clippers.