Saving some face for his estranged wife, who wants to remain part of part of the ownership group?
Achieving a measure of absolution before he bids a final farewell, if, in fact, reports of his ill health are true?
Sadly, Sterling lacks the tools to affect any sort of sympathy; not from his peers; not from his kin; not even, truth be told, from the cosmic scorekeeper.
Last night only cemented his image as a cringing bigot, entitled and inhuman; the sort of man who considers most of the rest of the species beneath his regard.
In his ill-advised attempt at self-defense, Sterling managed to insult blacks, the elderly, people with HIV/AIDS, Magic Johnson in particular, and, very likely, people of the Jewish faith who don't appreciate perpetuation of stereotypes.
His only chance at redemption was an admission of guilt, and a willingness to remove himself from public view.
He cannot leave the spotlight.
We cannot stop watching.
"I can't explain some of the . . . stupid things I said," Sterling said.
Well, that was the point of his appearance on CNN, if there was a point; that is, a point beyond witnessing more sickeningly seamy television.
Most of the attention from Sterlings ramblings at Cooper will be given to Sterling's misdirected condemnation of Magic Johnson, but that's the easy story.
The worst of what he said concerned how Jews take care of other Jews, while blacks do not.
"Jews, when they get successful, they will help their people," said Sterling, who is Jewish. "Some of the African-Americans - maybe I'll get in trouble again - they don't want to help anybody."
That, of course, is a blatantly racist statement.
Then again, Sterling's racism is old news.
Sterling has been accused of racism and bigotry for years, in and out of court. NBA legend and former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor told Cooper (who else?) last week that Sterling routinely used racist comments in his presence and described Sterling as having a "plantation mentality." Former Clippers star Marques Johnson tells stories of Sterling's obsession with objectifying his players, and blamed Sterling's actions and attitudes for helping him swim deeper into substance abuse in the mid-'80s.
Sterling professed to Cooper an inability to understand the phrase "Plantation mentality."
He also said to Cooper, "I think you're more of a racist than I am."
He scurries behind another insulting defense: that old people are "foolish." He's 80, he said, so, of course, he was easily duped into believing that his arm candy, 31-year-old V. Stiviano, cared for him. She is the woman he is speaking with in the recording that got Sterling banned for life.
In the recording, Sterling told Stiviano that she was free to have sex with black men, as long as she did not photograph herself interacting with them, as she did with Magic. It's hard to characterize that sort of relationship as anything more romantic than, well . . . a business arrangement.
Right now, business is bad.
The person most victimized by Sterling's comments was, of course, Magic.
Ironically, Johnson provided a template for public forgiveness, one that Sterling has chosen to ignore.
After Magic discovered he was HIV-positive, he admitted his infidelities. He became the face that humanized the pursuit of a cure for HIV/AIDS, and he spearheaded prevention efforts. Johnson also is a pioneer and a champion of inner-city business growth.
Johnson is bulletproof.
Sterling fired, anyway.
First, without context, Sterling claimed that Johnson offered to help counsel him through the fallout of the scandal surrounding the recording.
Then, he mocked Magic, derided him as a former womanizer, and implied that anyone with HIV/AIDS could not be considered a person of merit.
"Has he done everything he can do to help minorities? I don't think so . . . What does he do for black people? He does nothing," Sterling told Cooper. "I don't think he's a good example for the children of Los Angeles."
The Magic Johnson Foundation gave away more than $1 million in grants and scholarships in 2011 and 2112 alone.
By the way, guess whom Anderson Cooper will interview tomorrow night?
You got it.
Here's hoping that one is less painful, because we'll be watching that one, too.
Perhaps Magic will be gracious. Perhaps he will show mercy to Donald Sterling.
Let's hope not.
Sterling is beyond pathetic. He is monstrous, irredeemable.
He insists his players still "love" him, even after they refused to show the team logo during warmups before a playoff game.
He insisted that NBA and public sympathy lies with him; that "the media" have spun this issue into the beast it has become.
Please, do not consider him delusional. He is simply devious.
Sports has not suffered a setback like this since skinflint Reds owner Marge Schott, the anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizer who routinely tossed around the "N-word" in reference to her own employees and who had little patience for the sensibilities of Asians and Asian-Americans. In a much less politically correct era, she was twice suspended and was facing a third ban before she agreed to sell.
Perhaps the NBA learned from the typical glacial response from Major League Baseball:
Immediate eradication of a disease always beats trying to live with it.
There is no cure for what Sterling is. He proved that last night.
Hopefully, we are not incurable, too.