LOS ANGELES (AP) — The interim CEO hand-picked by the NBA to run the Los Angeles Clippers said Monday he's confident the league will succeed in forcing a sale of the team owned by Donald Sterling since 1981.
Dick Parsons arrived in Los Angeles and met with management and staff of the Clippers. Sterling has been banned for life by the NBA and fined $2.5 million after recordings of him making racist comments surfaced.
"My personal belief is the league will prevail, which means there will be an ownership change," Parsons said during a news conference at Staples Center. "A prolonged legal battle is in no one's interest, certainly not the league's. I would hope we could avoid that."
Parsons said he won't be involved in the ownership fight. He said he's being paid by the NBA but he doesn't report to Commissioner Adam Silver or the league's owners.
Donald Sterling apologized for the racist comments captured during a recorded conversation, saying in a televised interview Monday night that they were a "terrible mistake."
"I embarrassed the league. I humiliated them. I don't know how, why I did it," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "I mean, it's so terrible."
Sterling said he apologized to the NBA, and he doesn't believe the other owners would vote to have him removed as owner of the Clippers.
"Of course they support me. They can't understand why I would say that. I can't understand why I would say that," he said. "People want me to hire a wall of lawyers and them to have to hire a wall of lawyers and go to war. I don't think that's the answer."
Sterling said he believes the players on the team "love" him.
"They know I'm not a racist, and I'm not a racist," he said. "I think I create opportunities for them, so they can make $100 million. I don't give them anything, believe me, and those players could get that same amount of money anywhere else. Of course they earn it, and they work harder than any other sport."
Parsons doesn't know Sterling and won't be talking to him because the 80-year-old owner is banned.
"He's a little late, to be sure," Parsons said about Sterling's apology. "I'm here to turn one of the burners off under the pot, not to turn it up higher."
Clippers coach Doc Rivers said he was aware of Sterling's apology, although he had not seen the interview.
"I'm glad that he did it," Rivers said by phone from Oklahoma City, where the team plays Tuesday. "That's what you have to do and you should do it. Probably should have done it right away."
Sterling's estranged wife, Shelly, has said she will fight to keep her 50 percent ownership of the team. Parsons said he anticipates talking with her at some point, although he said Donald Sterling is the only controlling owner of the team.