LOS ANGELES Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, in a new tape that surfaced on Friday, is heard dismissing racist remarks that could cost him his pro basketball team as made out of jealousy over other men spending time with a woman he was trying to woo.
On the audio recording, obtained by the entertainment website Radar Online, the 80-year-old sports tycoon appears to tell an unidentified male friend that he made the comments while attempting to seduce that woman and never expected them to be made public.
"If you ever tried to have sex with a girl and you're talking to her privately, and you don't think anybody's there, you may say anything in the world. What difference does it make?" Sterling says. "Then if the girl tapes it and releases it, my God, it's awful."
Radar Online did not say where it obtained the new tape or when it was recorded. Reuters could not independently confirm it was Sterling's voice on the recording, and a Sterling representative could not be located to seek comment on Friday.
Sterling, who has owned the Clippers for 33 years, first came under fire in late April when the celebrity website TMZ.com posted an audio recording in which he could be heard making derogatory remarks about black people.
Three days later, amid a firestorm of outrage from players, fans and commercial sponsors, National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver fined the billionaire businessman $2.5 million and banned him for life from the NBA.
Silver also called on the league's 29 other owners to take the unprecedented step under the NBA's constitution and bylaws of forcing Sterling to relinquish ownership of his team.
"The girl is black. I like her. I'm jealous that she's with other black guys," Sterling is heard on the recording to say of the original taped conversation. Radar Online identifies the man Sterling is heard speaking to only as a "long-time friend."
"I want her, so what the hell, can I, in private, tell her 'You know, I don't want you to be with anybody?' I mean, am I a person? Do I have any freedom of speech?" he is heard to say.
"I know I'm wrong, what I said was wrong, but I never thought the private conversation would go anywhere out to the public. I didn't want her to bring anybody to my game because I was jealous. I mean I'm being honest," he said.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Cynthia Johnston)