Donald Sterling defends self on tape

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Friday, May 9, 2014

A new recording sheds some light on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's perspective -- including a vehement denial that he is racist -- in the wake of being banned for life and fined $2.5 million by the NBA over a week ago. 

In the audio recording, posted by Radar Online and confirmed by ABC News to be Sterling, the embattled owner yells, "You know I'm not a racist!" to an unidentified listener. 

"You think I'm a racist?" he says. "You think I have anything in the world but love for everybody? You don't think that! You know I'm not a racist!"

As evidence, Sterling cites his experience as president of a diverse high school in east Los Angeles. He also says of his management of the Clippers: "How can you be in this business and be a racist? Do you think I tell the coach to get white players, or to get the best player he can get?"

Sterling says his feelings were hurt by Magic Johnson's reaction, in particular, to the controversy.

"It breaks my heart that Magic Johnson, a guy that I respect so much, wouldn't stand up and say, 'Well, let's get the facts. Let's get him and talk to him,'" Sterling says. "Nobody tried. Nobody!"

It is unclear when the most recent recording -- reportedly a taped phone call between Sterling and a "longtime friend" -- was made.

In the original recording posted by TMZ, Sterling is heard saying he wants his associate V. Stiviano to remove an online photo of her with Johnson, saying it bothered him "a lot" that she was "associating with black people." Johnson subsequently spoke out against Sterling and was named as a potential buyer of the Clippers.

Johnson, a partner in the Los Angeles Dodgers' ownership group, promptly dismissed such talk.

On the new recording, Sterling bristles at the idea he could be forced to sell the team. As a lawyer, he says, it's his opinion that "you can't force someone to sell property in America." 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has urged the league's other owners to force a sale.

Other than a brief interview made public last week, Sterling has kept a relatively low profile since the first recording was made public. Sterling was quoted by last Friday as saying he wished he had "paid off" Stiviano, the woman behind the original recording. According to the person who conducted that interview, Sterling "expressed remorse," although no other statements from him were provided at the time. 

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