May 5th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
5 months ago

Poll: Should Donald Sterling be forced to sell his team?

(CNN) - A new national poll indicates Americans are split over whether NBA owners should force Donald Sterling to sell the Los Angeles Clippers after racial comments he made became public.

According to the CNN/ORC International poll released Monday, 47% of the public supports a forced sell of the team, while 50% are against it.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced last week he would find Sterling $2.5 million and ban him from the league for life. Silver also said he would work with the NBA's other owners to urge Sterling to sell.

While 47% of all Americans think Sterling should be forced to give up his team, that number changes when the poll focuses on people who identify themselves as NBA fans. Sixty-percent of those who describe themselves as fans of professional basketball support stripping the team of its owner, compared to 41% who are not fans of the NBA.

Overall, two-thirds of all Americans say that race relations in the U.S. are good, although fewer than one in 10 would describe relations as very good. There is little different between white and non-white on the issue, with 67% of whites saying race relations are good and 66% of non-whites saying the same thing.

It's worth noting that too few blacks, Latinos or Asians are in the sample to show results for individual non-white groups.

"Generally speaking, the number of Americans who say that race relations are good is much higher than in the first few years of the 21st century, and quite a bit higher than in the 1990s," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But that number has also been on the decline since 2009."

The poll comes after a CBS News/New York Times survey released on Friday indicated 49% of Americans think Sterling should sell the Clippers, while 40% think he should not. The survey showed that many Americans express hesitation about punishing people based on private conversations that are later made public. According to the survey, 50% think it's unacceptable, while 42% think it's OK.

If Sterling does sell the team, he'd profit considerably. He bought the Clippers for $12 million in 1981, and the team is now worth $575 million, according to Forbes magazine.

The Clippers will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday in the Western Conference semifinals.

The survey was conducted May 2-4 for CNN by ORC International, with 1,008 adult nationwide – including 307 fans of professional basketball – questioned by telephone. The sampling error among adult Americans is plus or minus three percentage points, while the sampling error among NBA fans 5.5 percentage points.

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this story.


Filed under: Polls
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Put me down as against please.

    May 5, 2014 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. Ryan

    I don't think he should be forced to sell the team, I think that he should be forced to donate a portion of his profits to a charity, and not be allowed to be in the public eye, or have any interviews.

    May 5, 2014 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Michelle K

    I wish someone would FIND me 2.5M$!

    May 5, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. scott

    they said it all when they said private...you shouldn't be afraid to say whatever you want in your own home....this is not 1984....big brother stay out

    May 5, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  5. larsfox

    If Sterling is forced to sell, it must be to somebody who will swear, under oath and penalty of prison time if they lie, that they have never said anything offensive about a race other than their own, at any time in their life. Good luck with the sale.

    May 5, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. NMR

    should not be forced to sell team, but in a free market, firms can decide not to buy advertising with team, Players can decide not to play for team, coaches can decide not to coach for team , fans ca decide not to support the team, leaving natural market forces left to encourage the current owner to sell the team

    May 5, 2014 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. jaCK

    don't force him to sell it... just boycott his games..

    May 5, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. YK

    What Americans say in public is not what they believe in private.

    May 5, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Rob

    Agreed. Some people are getting far too senstive to issues. Latinos were mentioned in the audio tapes as well and I havent heard one complain yet.

    May 5, 2014 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. Darwin Salonen

    He was set up it shouldnot have sell his team because last time I checked USA still has freedom of speach

    May 5, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Ofc against him!

    May 5, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  12. jerry

    ok, bill gates would be forced to sell his MS stock because he is a liberal and speaks badly of the Tea Party…calls them racist!

    May 5, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. michael driscoll

    This man should not be demonized. Let his accusers and the irresponsible malignant people that exposed his private communication in the way they did understand, if you are willing to have your most intimate secret experiences exposed to the world then step to the plate and accuse this man and if not, pray for him and shut up because what you give is what you'll get in mercy.

    May 5, 2014 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  14. familyjoool

    Until it becomes illegal (for any race) to be a bigot, he should not be forced to sell.

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  15. Ricky

    I'm 100% "against" him being forced to sell the team. I will stand up for anyone's right to have a private conversation.

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  16. rgalinato

    If he keeps the team he'll lose money. Let him keep the team then and see if the coach stays and the players. Not only that but the sponsors don't have to sponsor him. NOt to mention the lawyer fees. He should just sell the team he bought for 13 million and he'll get over half a billion for it.

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Yvonne Moore

    No no no....he has a right to express his personal views. Oh, did I forget to mention that I'm black....

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. jerry

    I believe the man should line up the best attorneys on the planet and get busy… time to stop this nonsense.

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. mike

    He's not racist, he just doesn't like Magic Johnson. And who can blame him, he's probably hitting on his wife.

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. sam

    No, because he is not the sole owner and the rest of the family (owners) didn't say the things he did.

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. senioreditor2

    He agreed to the rules when he joined the NBA. Sucks now for him.

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. Jim Beam

    ......if we had access to the private conversations of the African-American NBA legends, they would be indiscernible from the vitriol of Sterling. Furthermore, how do you allow the double standard ? Sterling is being blasted for being anti-inclusive; yet, Charles Barkley and Isiah Thomas are allowed to say on national TV "....the NBA is a black league."

    How do you sanction Sterling and give these bozos a free pass ?

    May 5, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. mdemartino1991

    The NBA can be offended by Sterling being a racist when they start getting offended by the Criminals they have playing on their teams.

    Two Washington players pulled guns on each other in a locker room and those men were suspended and fined and invited back to play.

    If that is more acceptable than an old man who is a racist, the NBA has no right to claim they are a moral authority over anything.

    May 5, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. JohnRJohnson

    Nope. There's no more racism in America. Nosireebob.

    May 5, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Chris

    Why should this man be forced to sell his team? This is business. We may not like his opinions or politics but I think this Country still stands for freedom of speech and opinions without public persecution. Certainly, there are many who say and do much worse in the public forum. Let the fans show their discontent with ticket sales and put their money where their mouths are.

    May 5, 2014 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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