Donald Sterling's wife Shelly vows to fight NBA

Published 05/13 2014 07:07AM

Updated 05/13 2014 07:11AM

Sterling sat down with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie to respond to her husband's interview with CNN Monday night, in which he made new controversial comments about basketball legend Magic Johnson.

"I'm very angry. And I'm very hurt. And I even cried listening to that, because I just feel bad," she told Guthrie in a sit-down that aired Tuesday on TODAY. "And then I feel bad. Why am I the victim when he's the perpetrator? If somebody killed somebody, does the wife have to stand trial too?"

In the interview Monday night with Anderson Cooper, Donald kicked up renewed controversy when he criticized Johnson, claiming he has not done anything to help others, particularly in the African-American community. 

"What kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV?'' Donald said. "Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about? I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything."

"I never understood what he was talking about,'' Shelly told Guthrie after watching the interview. "And why would he bring Magic Johnson into the issue about what's happening now? I mean, that's why I felt pity because he couldn't get all the dots together. He couldn't connect the dots." 

Watching the interview, Sterling believes her husband may be losing his faculties. 

"He's not the man I know, or I knew,'' she said. "There's something wrong. I really think, personally, he has dementia. 

"I don't think it happened overnight. I think it's been happening, but nobody really knew the reason. I mean, he gets crazy, and yells, and screams, and hollers one moment. The next moment he' about something else. I mean it's like nothing makes sense." 

Guthrie noted that while dementia may make people delusional or nonsensical, it doesn't necessarily make them say racist things. 

"I don't make excuses for anybody,'' she said, admitting that she doesn't know much about dementia. 

She told Guthrie she is estranged from her husband, even though the two had dinner together in recent weeks. She added that she has contemplated divorce for years and almost filed papers last week, but her lawyers advised her not to, because of the financial issues. 

Sterling believes the NBA's attempts to push her out amount to sexism.

"I really think so,'' she said. "Would an owner's wife say the same thing, and would the owner be asked to leave the NBA? Or would they just say, 'Well, she's only the wife.'''

"The problem we have here is she's been sucked into the maelstrom and people say, you know, 'Off with her head,''' Sterling's lawyer, Pierce O'Donnell, told Guthrie. "She had nothing to do with it. Is this because she's a woman?" 

Still, Sterling agrees with the NBA's decision to force her husband to sell the team. 

"I think I agree with what...their decision is,'' she said. "I don't agree what their decision is for me. I wholly feel that I've done nothing wrong."  

Even the fans and team members, she said, have her back.

"Well, I went to the game about two days ago,'' she said. "I was sitting up in the box. All the fans right below me were high-fiving me, saying, 'Go girl. Don't give up.' I talked to some of the players. They hugged me." 

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