V. Stiviano says Donald Sterling’s racist comments on an audio recording leaked to the public were not the first by the Los Angeles Clippers owner in conversations with her.
“There’s been a number of occasions where Mr. Sterling and I had conversations just like this one. This was one of very many,” Stiviano told Barbara Walters on ABC’s “20/20” in an interview that aired Friday night. “Part of what the world heard was only 15 minutes. There’s a number of other hours that the world doesn’t know.”
Sterling told Stiviano in the recording that she should not post online photos of herself with black people, including basketball great Magic Johnson, or bring black people to Clippers games.
The recording, which an attorney for Stiviano said was leaked by a third party, led to public outcry across the country and the NBA. Some sponsors dropped the Clippers and others re-evaluated their relationship with the NBA.
On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and urged league owners to force him to sell the team. A three-quarters vote by the NBA owners is required to force him to sell.
Though Stiviano told Walters that Sterling should “absolutely” apologize, she said she still loves him like a father figure and does not believe he is a racist.
“I think Mr. Sterling is from a different generation than I am,” she said. “I think 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.”
Stiviano said that since the ban, Sterling has felt confused, alone and not supported by those around him.
“I think he’s highly more traumatized and hurt by the things that he said himself,” she said. “I think he can’t even believe or understand sometimes the thing he says, and I think he’s hurt by it. He’s hurting right now.”
A real-estate mogul, Sterling has been accused of racial missteps before.
The billionaire had paid a $2.76 million settlement to resolve a federal lawsuit accusing him of systematically excluding blacks and Hispanics from his rental properties.
Earlier Friday, Clippers coach Doc Rivers met with team employees. Instead of preparing for the biggest game of the season, Rivers spent the morning at the Clippers’ team offices, listening to employees in ticket sales, marketing and other departments who took the brunt of public backlash against the Clippers in phone calls and other contact with the public.
“They really haven’t had a lot of people talking to them,” Rivers said of the team employees. “It was really hard to see them. I didn’t realize. Ticket people, marketing people, and they’re sitting there crying, and I felt so bad for them. I was thinking, ‘My God, we’ve been in this thing as players and as the coaches.’ You forget that these are the people that are on the front line, and they work for the organization, too.”