LOS ANGELES Clippers owner Donald Sterling apologized yesterday for racist comments captured on tape, saying they were a "terrible mistake."
"I'm not a racist," Sterling told CNN's Anderson Cooper in excerpts posted from an interview taped yesterday and set to air today. "I made a terrible mistake. I'm here to apologize."
In his first public comments since being banned for life from the NBA, Sterling said years of good behavior as an owner should count toward his future.
"I'm a good member who made a mistake," Sterling said. "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 interview came nearly 2 weeks after commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling, fined him $2.5 million and urged the other league owners to force him to sell the team.
Sterling said he waited to make a public apology because he was "emotionally distraught."
"The reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong," Sterling said. "I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it."
He later added, "If the owners feel I have another chance, then they'll give it to me."
Sterling's comments came on the same day ABC News posted excerpts of an interview his estranged wife gave to Barbara Walters.
Shelly Sterling said she would fight to keep her 50 percent ownership stake of the team.
"I will fight that decision," Shelly Sterling said. "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."
LeBron James said yesterday after the Miami Heat practiced for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Brooklyn Nets that NBA players believe nobody in the Sterling family should be able to own the Clippers if he's gone.
"As players, we want what's right and we don't feel like no one in his family should be able to own the team," James said.
In games yesterday
* At Los Angeles, Darren Collison scored 10 of his 18 points in the final 2:58, rallying the Clippers past the Oklahoma City Thunder, 101-99, to tie the Western Conference semifinal series 2-2. Russell Westbrook, who scored 27 points, missed a three-pointer and Serge Ibaka's tip attempt was too late at the buzzer, allowing the Clippers to salvage a game they trailed until the final 1:23.
Blake Griffin led LA with 25 points and Chris Paul had 23 points and 10 assists. Andre Jordan had 14 rebounds, helping the Clippers win the boards, 45-43 - the first time in 11 playoff games the Thunder were outrebounded.
Game 5 is tomorrow night in Oklahoma City.
* At Washington, Paul George poured in a career playoff-high 39 points and added 12 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers back from a 19-point deficit and past the Wizards, 95-92, to move one victory away from returning to the Eastern Conference finals.
The Pacers lead the second-round series 3-1 and can close it out tomorrow night, hosting Game 5.