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. Maria

    NO he should not have to sell. He was black mailed by a tramp in private conversation that was recorded. It is ridiculous because he did not say anything worse than a lot of people of color I have heard say (They have said much worse things about whites in private) I agree that is was not a good thing to say but get over it already everyone!

    May 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Heck No.....Powers that be are more often than not Picking & Choosing what is 1st amend worthy & what is not.

    May 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  3. sylvester shiflett (re:sylj)

    perhaps yes, but actually he should not be forced, if a protocol was established in writing prior to his purchase, then he would not have a choice, but if it was not then it should be up to him.

    May 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. Sam

    Some of you need to pick up a book and learn what freedom of speech means. It DOES NOT mean you get to say whatever you want without consequence. It ONLY MEANS you have the right not to be persecuted by THE GOVERNMENT for speech – that's it!

    May 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  5. Bert

    No, not only should he NOT be forced to sell his team, I hope he has enough money that he can REFUSE to sell his team. Let the franchise die if they want to ban him. See how quickly they reverse if they realize how much lost revenue this entails.

    May 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  6. Bill

    Like Sterling's going to sell his team.

    He'll keep the issue tied up in court until he dies.

    May 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  7. L Collins

    I don't agree with his thoughts/comments, but what you say in your privacy should not be held against one. He's wealthy thats why it happened if a poorer person said it, who would really care.

    May 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. Reality Check

    Most of you really do not get it. If Sterling does not sell the team, there will be no players to play next year. Also this may run over into other teams. Let's say Lebron (wherever he is) and Duran decide to boycott game. You morons don't get that this will affect the WHOLE league, thus they are going to FORCE Sterling to sell. He can fight it, but its a moot point.

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Did he break a law? How far off is he from describing what a lot of people believe? My concern is by forcing him to sell the team those who feel like him will only push their beliefs on the rest of us. What happened already is enough it drove the point home in two ways. One, these are his true feelings. Two, taking this punishment to far will only make those calling for it appear the same as the Owner. Race issues are easier to deal with by giving people the chance to be true with their feelings. Change that comes from the root of a problem is far more reaching than that which comes from the surface.

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  10. alanjason

    This is still America, and there's still this little thing called the First Amendment. Fine, he's a racist and an @sshole, but that doesn't mean that he should be forced to sell a business he owns, all because of an opinion. If people want to punish him, then boycott his team and don't buy let the guy make money off of you. But forcing him to sell his business wreaks of communism.

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Rob

    By all the comments at this web site. It sure looks like a split to me. If CNN polls are that much off we will stick with A SPLIT.

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. Remp

    Wow so now you hurt someone's feelings and you're forced to sell your business? What a bunch of ninnies.

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. Maria

    NO he should not have to sell. He was black mailed by a tramp in private conversation that was recorded. It is ridiculous because he did not say anything worse than a lot of people of color I have heard say (They have said much worse things about whites in private) I agree that it was not a good thing to say but get over it already everyone!

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. summer

    No Sterling Shouldn't Have To Sell His Team .......This had nothing to do with "race" this has to do with...
    Gold Digger had her picture taken with a man , Sterling didn't like the picture on Instragram , and asked for it
    to be taken off . Plus Gold Digger RECORDED him in his own home , she didn't love him , she's Only looking
    to get Whatever she can from Sterling , this isn't about Love , it's about money in her eyes .
    IF anything Gold Digger should go to Jail ( Recordings ) .....

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. John Hill

    No, he shouldn't be forced to sell his team. He should be forced to turn it over to a trust who either runs the team or sells it and distributes ALL the profits to help minorities. A racist pig like Sterling shouldn't be allowed to profit from the sale of the team that minorities, the people he hates, built in spite of him

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  16. wheels

    As it pertains to the NBA, Sterling is Bad for business. Once the Corporate Sponsors drop out the owners will force a sale on Sterling. If he doesnt sell the players will find ways to get out of their contracts with the Clippers and the franchise will be doomed.....I hope he doesnt sell just for the entertainment value of this whole thing.

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. Alan Tyree

    Absolutely NOT! I find it hard to believe that in this so called "Land of the fre", a man should be punished and made to sell something that he bought with his own money, because of his beliefs. The fact is, Black players on his team are treated and paid the same as white players, so there is no case for discrimination. So this case is based solely on what he believes, and in this country, every man has a right to his own belief.

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  18. Zee

    Actually Scott, you are very wrong. You can think of Ownership of the NBA as a board of directors, split between all of the teams. Sterling is merely one of the board members, if the rest of the board does not feel that he represents them and that he may be hurting the NBA because of his now very public opinions, they have every right to seek to vote him out. Now, I don't know if they can legally force the sell of the team, I don't know what contracts Sterling did or did not sign when he bought the team, so that is up in the air, he can absolutely be booted out of the league though, that is without question.

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. Rhonda

    Not he should not be forced to sell, but considering the backlash he's receiving from those who sponsor his team, it would be a good business move for him to sell it. And if I was him, I'd sue that ugly wench who put him in this predicament and have her stand trial for slander and illegally recording a private conversation to use as extortion. I'd have that twit so far under the jailhouse, she gets worms..

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. Mike

    Sterling can say and feel however he wants. So can the NBA players. Sterling can keep his team. I hope the player use their freedom of speech and boycott next season as some of the players have spoken about.

    Enjoy your all-white NBA and racist owners!

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. Christine

    If the NAACP was going to give him an award he must have done some good things for blacks, but no one is talking about that. But I don't believe it's right to force his wife an family to have to give up the team though.

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  22. Hari

    What happen to "Freedom of Expression"? It is up to the players and coaching staff to decide what they want to do with their contract. Sterling has been fined and repremended by NBA commisioner. Many politicians have insulted President Obama by commenting on his race. Was anybody forced out of poitical party? We can't have double standerd. Give him a chance to explain and move on...

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Should some of you so called reporters writing results from God who knows polls and the people participating views should shut up. Race matters here with the personnel associated with the NBA but not in main stream America where you can call the President every cruel thing under sun and refuse to help people because of their skin color. We know who wants thing to not change and why

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. Wayne

    This was an obvious set up. Who records their calls with their intimate other unless they plan to use them. The liberal media and the gutless NBA responded like the sheeple they are...Didnt have any use for basketball and the NBA before and sure as hell won't now.

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. Your Mom

    Sports R stoopid

    May 5, 2014 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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