Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling apologized and asked for forgiveness on Sunday in his first public statement since the controversy began.
In an interview to be broadcast on Monday, Sterling told CNN he made a terrible mistake but was not a racist.
"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," Sterling said in the interview, according to CNN. "I'm here to apologize."
His comments came about two weeks after National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver fined the billionaire businessman $2.5 million and banned him after a tape surfaced of Sterling telling his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, not to associate with black people.
He said of the recording, "When I listen to that tape, I don't even know how I can say words like that. ... I don't know why the girl had me say those things. ...
"Yes, I was baited. I mean, that's not the way I talk. I don't talk about people for one thing, ever. I talk about ideas and other things. I don't talk about people."
Asked why it had taken so long for him to address the issue in public, Sterling replied: "The reason it's hard for me, very hard for me, is that I'm wrong. I caused the problem. I don't know how to correct it," Sterling told CNN.
Meanwhile, Sterling's wife, Shelly, said in an interview published Sunday that she plans to divorce her husband. However, she added that she’ll fight to keep her stake in the Clippers if the National Basketball League owners vote to force him to sell the squad.
“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?” Shelly Sterling told ABC News’ Barbara Walters. “Or would they leave the husband in?”