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. Scott

    the NBA has no right to do anything. Force the sale or fine him. What he did was in the privacy of his own home and is none of the NBA's business what he says outside NBA functions. What he did was stupid, but in his own home he has the right to say what he wants about anything he wants. Frankly he should counter sue the NBA for the fine, because the NBA has no grounds for fining him. The NBA can NOT dictate what a person does or doesn't do in their own home.

    May 5, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. John C Januszewski

    Mr Sterling SHOULD NOT be forced to sell his team. Him being denied his
    freedom of speech, to that represents communism.

    May 5, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Sharon

    This was a private conversation that was leaked to the press. I'm sure he's not the only person in the world who
    has said things he regrets. He has a right to his own thoughts and in no way should it interfere with his business interests.
    No, if I were in his position, I would not sell.

    May 5, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. Larry

    He shouldn't be forced to sell his team. While I disagree with his comments, he was at home, and should feel free to make pretty much any comment he wants to. The last I heard, this was still a semi-free country. If the fans decide to boycott his games, that's also their right as a free people.

    May 5, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    NO.... He shouldn't have to sell the team. He was fined $2.5million..... that should be enough

    May 5, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. Gary

    He should keep his team. He is the owner, and you don't have to agree with his view but there is freedom of speech in this country, right?

    May 5, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Phil

    No. The Rev Al Sharpton makes racial comments and he gets his own show.

    May 5, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Yeah right, a CNN Communist Socialist poll. Every other poll all over the internet shows more like 66% against him having to sell the team. I hope Sterling tells the NBA to stick it where the sun don't shine. Hang in there Sterling, you were illegally recorded.

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. mitchgam

    The issue of if he should be forced to sell the team or not is not up to the public
    Public opinion on if he should be forced to sell it is irrelevant

    This is a BUSINESS decision to be made by the NBA owners alone.

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Angelo

    I,don't think he should sell the team who is the NBA any way? I thought this was a free country of free enterprises.Where do we stop is that the new American way?what happened to freedom of speech?Now we can dictate what people say and own.funny I, thought we won world war II or is Hitler still alive and well in the NBA?

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. Jimmy John

    The guy should give up his life's work over a lover spat? The team is in trust so it can't be sold. What he said was not illegal btw. He was setup if you listen to the tape....If Sterling sues he will win.

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. bigtime1957

    make him sell......

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  13. morgan

    Now, how to define "who is white? who is back?" still, the mix brown color is the major, therefore Obama is elected. If we elected a real white, or a real black as the president, then we can say that there is no difference. 50 years ago, the white is the majority, they elect the white. Actually we are not difference from 50 years, and will will be the same 50/100 years later.

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  14. mike

    No he should not be forced to sell the team. Even if his views aren't popular, he still has his freedom of speech. Take away that and were no better than the communist/Islamic countries we go to war with.

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. giveitarest

    what's ridiculous is the NBA'S outrage about some private remarks but they are fine with their players drug use and criminality.....

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  16. Joe Good guy

    It was only words ,He did not kill any one what is this world comeing too

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. wes

    Yup, 47 percent commies.

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. John

    All Americans must be able to speak their mind, and more so in private.

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. Bill from GA

    " BA Commissioner Adam Silver announced last week he would find Sterling $2.5 million "

    If I say something real offensive , could they find me $2.5 Million?? Please!

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

    no he shouldn't be forced to sell HIS team nor should he be fined,,,

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  21. SouthernGent1990

    When MSNBC makes Al Sharpton give up his show for his racist remarks, then I'll think about Mr. Sterling. Until then, this is a joke.

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  22. Pat

    I AGREE WITH THE SALE!!! He AGREED NOT to defame the IMAGE of the NBA!!! He breached that agreement, and therefore SHOULD SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES!!! He OBVIOUSLY has disdain for black people, and should NOT PROFIT ONE DIME OFF THE BACKS OF THE PEOPLE HE DOESN'T LIKE!!! GOOD JOB COMMISH!!!

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    last I knew everyone has free speech and an opinion reguardless of what we think.Last I knew that was the American way

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  24. Bob

    What he said was terrible but being forced to sell his team is a slippery slope. What would happen if what he said was anti-Semitic? Where is the line? Who sets the line? Economic forces will make him sell the team.

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. Donald

    As offensive as the remarks may have been, they were made in private, not as a corporate position or practice. If there is no violation of labor/EEO laws in how the team is managed as a business/employer they have no business trying to ban him, force him to sell his team, or fining him. A lot of posturing by others in the NBA, the media, and politics. The public and players, if they wish, can cease to sponsor/support/play for Sterling.

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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