May 5th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
8 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. Joe T

    I guess Rev Wright should be forced to surrender his pulpit,Al(Tawana Brawley)Sharpton should be forced to give up his show,Jessie Jackson should be forced to give up the Rainbow Coalition.We also need microphones on all African Americans in the NBA,ANY racial slurs and you are banned from the league(and NO union whining)

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  2. Nate

    It really doesn't matter what "all Americans" supposedly think. The NBA & those close to being in & around the NBA(fans, owners, coaches, Commish, etc) alike are the ultimate judge & jury in this matter! By the way, yes he should lose his team. He doesn't deserve having a NBA team, that is made up of majority non-white players, with his views & neither should any owner of a major company w/ those views either, IMO. Sterling is living in the past, & it goes against a league, & country that's moving forward & away from views like Sterlings. There's no place for it in any society, but especially American society.

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  3. Mike Prather

    No he shouldn't have to sell his team. Quite Frankly i dont think the guy is a racist. I think he was influenced by it growing up and he has a complex thinking he's better than others at times. But he's been made a scapegoat. He's done plenty of good to minorities and kept his thoughts wether prejudice or not private. Like we all do. I'm black and we all have crazy private thoughts when jealousy hit us. Thise hore who recorded him should be prosecuted. His commetns were definately off base and racial. And the dude has racial tendency's but i think at his core he's a decent man who grew up in a segregated world and has made a success of himself. But to take his team is crazy. Wake up black people he's not our problem. At least he kept it in the privacy of his own home but yet still helped many minorities along the way including getting nominated for a Naacp award twice for God's sake. I think he's a jerk for cheating on his wife and doing it openly and he's got racial isuues. But the man is just complicated not a racist...Oh Did i mention i was Black!!! So dont post crazy notes to white folks..

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Terry

    Should he legally be forced to sell his team due to private comments?
    NO.
    However this is an owner making racist comments in a league predominantly African-American players, along with a strong minority audience.

    So how do the OTHER owners look if they let it slide?

    They are protecting their market.....

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

    He really screwed up, but then he was sucked into it by his (very) close assistant, who apparently asked him for lots of money for the tape. She was so close that it shows he is not really a "racist" but a more discriminating type person. So, I think he should press charges against her to show what really happened.
    After that, he should ask the NBA for a leave of absence to let someone else run the team preferably a black manager or former coach type. If he agrees to sell after that then there can be bargaining. BUT RIGHT NOW, HE NEEDS TO GET OUT OF THERE, and additionally bring a lawsuit against that gal who set him up for BLACKMAIL.

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. Ray

    No, he does not have to sell the team. He just needs help picking mistresses.

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  7. tmart

    He shouldn't be forced to sell the team BUT Sponsors won't be advertising with the Clippers anymore. Allstate, Red Bull, Car Max and others have all pulled the plug. So this will force Sterling to sell. Just as this racist is free to make any sort of racist remarks in his home he wants big corporations have the right to choose who they give their ad money to and who they don't.

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. David Hessell

    It is not up to a poll ... This will end up in court. We all would have to read the fine print in the NBA handbook on what you can say. There is no law that I know of for being stupid. And thank God for that ...

    May 5, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  9. Tom Kwapien

    No sale – sue the NBA and whoever taped his comments. What ever happened to freedom of speech however stupid the comments were.

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. david shoup

    No more freedom of speech, except for the press to magnify nothing into something. Disgusting

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Fran Russell

    No, no, and no. As long as he treats his employees and fans right, he should not be judged on his private comments. That is so wrong and a very dangerous precedent.

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  12. kelly

    no he should not. Oprah, Geffen, Larry. SHUT UP! find someone else to torment.

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  13. JaY

    He should have to sell his team and his girlfriend who betrayed him.

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. Lisa

    No body has the right to force him to sell his property. He has the right to his own opinions. It may have been a stupid thing to do but that doesn't justify the league telling him what to do. What's next telling us we have to sell our home because someone doesn't think it is fair that we have one and someone else doesn't. This is starting to seem like a communist society instead of a democracy.

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. dee bolster

    Really people actually think he should be MADE to sell...This society is getting scary. Freedom of speech...ring a bell?

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. ejb4501

    Sterling is a pig. And he has DEFINITELY tarnished the NBA, which does INDEED give them the right to punish him in any number of ways. But let him keep the team....and watch players BAIL and fans BOYCOTT. The team would lose a ton of value and Sterling would get hurt where it hurts most.

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. Bobby

    Are you kidding me?? This is gone crazy. The other day a guy called me a white trash redneck and my ladyfriend a b*%ch all because I had to slam on my brakes to keep from running over him when he walked off the curb without looking. OMG!!! Where's Al ? Wheres Jesse ? WHY IS THE MEDIA NOT JUMPING ALL OVER THIS?? Give me a break. Look how many guys have been made millionaires playing a kids game and now they want to bite the hand that feeds them???

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. butch

    No. He should not have to sell the team. How many times do you hear BLACK players call other BLACK players the "N" WORD. Nothing happens to them but they ,the other BLACKS, say it is ok because they are Black. Now how freaking RACIEST is that. He should sue the NBA and also sue his 'FRIEND" that taped their conversation. Isn't that against the law

    May 5, 2014 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Maria

    No he should not be forced to sell anything . This home wrecker hoar is mad she has to give up her lifestyle now . I don't think he is racist . Because she is half black so color of her don't matter . If his players don't like it they can give up their salaries and job ..

    May 5, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  20. Rudy

    I don't see how the league can unless they have bylaws or other agreements in place that he signed that allows for it. The best way to hurt him is for players to not sign to play for his team and for fans to not buy his tickets. See how quickly he sell then.

    May 5, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Marco

    He should have to sell the team WHY would that racist pig want to keep the team with all the blacks on it, He needs a all WHITE team than he will be HAPPY!!! HAPPY!!!

    May 5, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Dave

    To the extent that NBA is a business, who cares what he says?

    May 5, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  23. John

    Does anyone know that Freedom of Speech means? It has nothing to do with consequences of your speech by the public. Freedom of Speech protects you from GOVERNMENT creating a law or punishing you because of your opinions. For example, if I go up to my boss and say " You're a #*%ER" then I am not immune from being fired because of Freedom of Speech.

    May 5, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    does oprah have to get rid of her tv show?

    May 5, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. George Layton

    Mr. Sterling should not be judged by what he has said, particularly in the privacy of his own home. If he is to be judged at all it should be by what he has done.

    May 5, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
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