Speaking publicly for the first time since the release of a racist audio recording led to his lifetime ban from the NBA., Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling said he wishes he had “paid off” the female acquaintance who taped their conversation, according to media reports.
“I wish I had just paid her off,” Sterling reportedly told DuJour magazine, a Los Angeles lifestyle publication, speaking of V. Stiviano, to whom Sterling made the recorded comments., according to Friday reports by USA Today and other media outlets.
Stiviano widely has been described as the married Sterling’s girlfriend, although she denied any romantic connection in a televised interview Friday with ABC’s Barbara Walters.
The quote is the only one released from what the magazine called an exclusive discussion, USA Today said. Sterling told DuJour he only would do future interviews with Walters and the NBA.
Sterling had been silent since the recordings were leaked April 26 by the gossip website TMZ.com., USA Today said.
On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned the 80-year-old Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and said he would push owners to force Sterling to sell his franchise, which could be worth $500 million to $1 billion, according to media estimates.
“I think he [Sterling] feels very alone. Not truly supported by those around him,” Stiviano, 31, told Walters, according to media reports. “Tormented. Emotionally traumatized.”
“There’s been a number of occasions where Mr. Sterling and I had conversations just like this one,” Stiviano said, according to a CNN report of the interview with Walters. “Part of what the world heard was only 15 minutes. There’s a number of other hours that the world doesn’t know.”
“I think he comes from a different generation…he was brought up to believe these things…segregation, whites and blacks. But through his actions, he’s shown that he’s not a racist. He’s shown to be a very generous and kind man.”