Sterling: "If I said anything wrong, I apologize"

Is it enough? It depends on the apology, and this one may not be quite enough. Donald Sterling offered a mea culpa to Anderson Cooper in an interview to be aired later today, but it’s the kind of apology one often hears in politics — the conditional “If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry” variety. In fact, that’s a quote:

Racist LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, desperate to cling to his team, begged forgiveness Sunday for making “a terrible mistake.”

“If I said anything wrong, I’m sorry,’’ Sterling told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interviewing airing Monday night. “I’m a good [NBA] member who made a mistake, and I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness.

“Am I entitled to one mistake, am I, after 35 years?’’ Sterling, 80, asked said during the interview at his Beverly Hills home — his first since the scandal broke.

Well, it’s not his first mistake. Don’t forget that Sterling got sued for age discrimination by his former GM, Elgin Baylor, who claimed that justice was served last week.  On top of that, Sterling has had numerous legal battles over allegations of racial discrimination in his real-estate businesses, which is why the NAACP’s repeated honors of Sterling raised so many eyebrows after this scandal blew open.

Sterling surprised Cooper by revealing that he’d had two conversations with Earvin “Magic” Johnson, one of the subjects in the taped discussions with Sterling’s mistress, since TMZ published its contents. Sterling wouldn’t answer when Cooper asked him whether he’d apologized to Johnson, whom Sterling specifically demeaned to his mistress. Instead, Sterling goes off on a weird tangent about Johnson, criticizing him for not doing enough for his community. “Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don’t think so … I just don’t think he is a good example for the children of Los Angeles.” That’s not the kind of repentance that’ll win over a nation.

Plus, Sterling tries playing the Marion Barry card, albeit with a little nudge from Cooper:

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling says he’s sorry but feels he was “baited” to make racist comments, nearly two weeks after the NBA fined him and banned him for life for his remarks in a recorded conversation.

“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,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview set to air on Monday.

“You’re saying you were set up?” Cooper asked.

“Well yes, I was baited,” Sterling said. “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.” …

Sterling told CNN he’s not sure who released the recording.

“I don’t know. An 80-year-old man is kind of foolish, and I’m kind of foolish. I thought she liked me and really cared for me,” he said. “I guess being 51 years older than her, I was deluding myself. … I just wish I could ask her why, and if she was just setting me up.”

Somehow, I doubt that this will deflect the NBA from its current course of forcing the Sterlings into a sale. With all of Sterling’s money and the time that has passed since the scandal erupted, it’s amazing that he hasn’t sought wiser council on public relations than what these interview excerpts indicate.