Barbara Walters may be retiring from television in a couple weeks, but that doesn’t mean she’s phoning it in these last few days. On Friday, the journalist known for landing big, exclusive interviews added another name to that list: V. Stiviano, the woman whose recording of a racist rant by Donald Sterling led to the Los Angeles Clippers owner receiving a lifetime ban from the NBA.
“I think Mr. Sterling is from a different generation than I am,” Stiviano, 31, told Walters in a 20/20 interview that aired last night. “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.”
The conversation in question involves Sterling, 80, scolding Stiviano, instructing her not to “promote” images of herself with black people, including basketball legend Magic Johnson, or bring black people to Clippers games. Stiviano’s attorney claims a third party leaked the recording of that conversation, which led to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banning Sterling from the league, fining him $2.5 million, and urging other owners to force him to sell the team.
“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 said. “Part of what the world heard was only 15 minutes. There’s a number of other hours that the world doesn’t know.”
But Stiviano told Walters that she doesn’t believe the real estate mogul is racist, though he should “absolutely” apologize. She denies having a romantic relationship with Sterling, saying she is his personal assistant and that she still loves him like a father figure. Stiviano believes Sterling feels abandoned since Silver announced his decision on Tuesday.
“I think he can’t even believe or understand sometimes the thing he says, and I think he’s hurt by it,” she said. “He’s hurting right now.”
Watch the interview here: