May 5th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
7 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. Crestline

    No, he should not be forced to sell his team. The team however, if truly offended by his comments, should stand perfectly still on the court during play time, letting the opposing team win until Mr. Sterling allows each and every player to be released from their playing contract. AND IF so many pro bball players are as offended as has been reported, Mr. Sterling will surely be unable to gather enough new players to have a team.

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Linda

    This is America folks and we do have rights, and one of those rights is to not associate with anyone we choose in a social setting. I think Donald Sterling is foolish for having a girlfriend, since he is a married man. The player have not complained of mistreatment by Mr. Sterling. This is a case of racists over reacting once again, remember Paula Deen she admitted her mistake but was publically cursified. If you start trying every person who makes inappropriate remarks 95% of the population is guilty.

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. matt

    who owns the arena.. that's where the power will reside...

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  4. Lynn

    Why? Where do we live . . . Russia?

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. Pat

    Scott said it all. I hope he does sue!!! What is this country becoming???

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  6. kayjax

    Gimme a break all of you who think he shouldn't be forced to sell. You obviously know nothing about the NBA or this fool. The Clippers have been a laughing stock of a franchise forever. Sterling doesn't care about winning, he cares only about making a profit. He could care less if the team wins zero games, as long as he made a buck or two. On top of this pile on the racist stuff and this fool needs to go! NOW!

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  7. George Whitehead

    Sterling's previous behavior would be enough to have his NBA partners remove let alone this event. He had the woman tape his conversations and even if he hadn't authorized the taping it is now public. His other partners( the players) want him out. The NBA's name is tainted and it is a private organization with its own rules. He should have been removed 30 years ago for being a terrible owner. The 29 or so other owners have made him successful with this team and his standing as an owner has couched his racist business practices. What is sad is that this event is what brought it all to a head.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  8. Ecurb TheProphet

    He will – sell the team. And FAST.

    Why? Because the exodus of quality players will begin. The fan base will dwindle. The downward spiral has begun.

    There is no NEED to force him to sell – he will anyway. He's not THAT stupid... just a bigot.

    He knows he needs to find a buyer and FAST before the value of the franchise starts eroding.

    Trouble he is going to have is FINDING a buyer. People with that kind of money... well, they aren't stupid either (but probably just as bigoted... just not so stupid about showing it) so they're going to hold on until the price starts falling.

    Team is supposedly worth $590 million right now, something like that?

    My prediction... it sells for less than $425 million, or about a 30% discount to present value.

    Wanna bet me?

    I'll take all bets... over under... I've got the under $425 million.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  9. LaRue

    Of course sterling should sell the team. He is bad for NBA business and their muticultural image, If sterling remains as owner, the NBA is faced with the prospect of a league wide "boycott" of the 2014 playoffs by all NBA players. That means loss of serious revenues.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. Bert974

    Maybe this is an attempt by potential buyers to get a forced sale at a lower price.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. Steve

    Heck No.....Powers that be are more often than not Picking & Choosing what is 1st amend worthy & what is not. He was fined, let it go at that....If you don't like bigots don't go to his Clippies games...

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Anonmous

    What next, the thought police?

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Mitt

    There's that dang freeloading 47% again, just a thorn in everybody's side. Well, mine really, but you know what I mean...

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Jemima

    You just can't make this stuff up.......an ancient randy old dude, his 50 years younger gold-digger girlfriend, tapes that may or may not have been made with his consent, a basketball team that have been losers for years comprised of 99% over-paid black giants....no, don't sell, Sterling! L.A. needs some laughs!

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. Guest

    I think they should put microphones in the locker rooms and record the players now. Let's "fine" everyone, not just those who are entrapped.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. Gene S

    I don't think hehould be fine or have to sell the time. What happn to free speak. I don't see any one gettin g after Al Sharrp or Obama. They are both racist.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  17. Laurie

    Players should not be made to work for someone they don't want to work for...sure they want to relieve Donald Sterling of the burdon of having to 'give' them houses, cloths, and cars....If the rest of the NBA club want him out, then yes, he should be forced to sell.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. Angel Beauchamp

    This dude needs to be OUT! Nobody wants to play for him! Look what happened to Ruinme after his 47% comments.... If you're racist, why you're living in the US???? Everybody here is mix!

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  19. bestbilliards555

    No he should not. He owns the team. That would be like me saying something racist in my own home then I have to sell my home. I own I do have to sell it I own it. I do not have to anything the Media says. David should have to sell the team just because the media wants him too. F the media.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  20. Jag51

    Whether Mr. Sterling sells the Clippers or not, the decision must ultimately be his own, not one made by the media or the NBA. As an 80 yr old man with unlimited resources, he could elect to drag this out in the courts for years, which would ultimately hurt the franchise. I don't see him electing to do so, because whether he is labeled a racist or not, I have to believe he cares about this team. My hope is that the young woman who obviously chose to attempt to destroy her "sugar daddy", will ultimately bear the consequences of her decision. Ultimately, the best decision for all concerned at this point would be for Mr. Sterling to allow his wife to take over as owner of the Clippers, at least in the short term, so the players, fans and all those who support this team can feel vindicated.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  21. Jacob

    Pedrina Valdez – That was a very ignorant and racist comment. Donald would be proud of your tiny mind.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  22. Rich

    They maybe able to tell him he has to sell the team, but I don't believe they can tell him for how much. If I was him I ask for 2 Billion dollars. If someone wants to pay it great. If they don't that's fine too.

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. RPM

    Anyone who thinks this has anything to do with the 1st Amendment or Freedom of Speech is an idiot. An outright fool.

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Mark Joanou

    I agree

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. Lucy

    If he withheld their pay or did something like that, then yes, force him to sell. But not for having the beliefs he does. They players and Doc Rivers have made quite a bit of money off of him. He couldn't have been that horrible to them for them to stay because working for the man is a CHOICE. They aren't the helpless victims in this that they claim to be, but rather they are vultures who are taking advantage of the situation. Which of the black players haven't said something disparaging of Sterling because he is white? Why do they get to keep their jobs?

    Why is no one upset at Doc Rivers when he went on tv and lied when he said this is not about race?

    If he is forced to sell, I would rather have him close the team down altogether, and let the whiners go work for Magic at one of his theaters for $10 an hour.

    Who wants to bet that one of the owners will be taping the conversation about the vote, and it will be somehow leaked to TMZ? And if it is a black person, Silver will look the other way about it.

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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