May 5th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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. northerstar

    It would be interesting to read the contract that he signed back in the early 1980's. I am certain the owners kept the agreement pretty simple especially where "reasons of forced sale" would be concerned. If he bet on games, or fixed a game I am certain there would be agreement on forcing him out. He is a bigot but has been a well known one for years. In the meantime he has put together a winning NBA team and apparently lived up to his franchise agreement. He is also known for fighting in court. I doubt 75% of the owners will agree on anything, including wanting to be Politically Correct. If they do vote to force the sale, he or his wife will file for divorce which immediately puts the team into divorce court as a marital asset. He & his wife could drag the divorce out until he dies as one tactic.

    May 5, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  2. joyce

    Weird thing is noone is talking about is how last NBA man in charge gave Chris Paul to the clippers. I think this is a way of getting the owner back for sterns screw up. I smell a rat.

    May 5, 2014 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. Bill

    By the way, where is Shaquille O'Neal's $2.5 million fine, lifetime ban, and being forced to sell his 5% share of the Kings?

    His Instagram post mocking the disabled person is just as offensive as Donald Sterling's taped conversations.

    May 5, 2014 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "I don't have to like my boss and my boss doesn't have to like me; we just need to get the job done."

    And when your employment contract says you can be fired for doing X, Y or Z or that a vote of the board of directors can result in your termination for any or no reason, then YOU SIGNED THE CONTRACT AND ACCEPTED ITS TERMS. Sterling signed many, many contracts to become a franchise owner in the NBA. Those contracts determine what rights, obligations and authorities he and the league have with respect to one another. If it gives the board authority to vote him out of the league and force him to sell under certain circumstances...including horrifyingly bad publicity for terrible racist comments that have the fan base and public outraged and threatening boycotts...then the board has the right to throw him out on his but and force the sale. This has nothing to do with "free speech" because it does not in any way involved government action. This is entirely private and ALL of it is determined by contracts that Sterling signed and agreed to in the "free market" and knew what he was getting into.

    May 5, 2014 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  5. LABorn

    YES!!! He should be forced to sell. It is similar to any franchise, you can force someone out who doesn't comply the rules or reflects badly on the company.....Get him out!!!

    May 5, 2014 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  6. KC

    I am not going to defend his beliefs. He is I am sure a racist. BUT there is a difference between racism and discrimination. Racism is not liking a person's race. Discrimination is acting upon those beliefs. I don't believe he has been discriminatory. He has a right to not like whoever he wants to. But I do believe people also have the right to not go to the games, not buy from his sponsors, and the players and the coach have a right to not play for him either.

    May 5, 2014 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  7. Michael

    It's amazing how easily legal guidelines can be ignored when there is a political and public feeding frenzy, ESPECIALLY when it's PC based.

    Look the guy is clearly a racist, and he made some stupid comments. He's ignorant. But the comments were made in private and recorded illegally. Anybody out there want to allow all comments they've made (including when you were intoxicated, enraged, mad behind the wheel, etc.) be used by the public to make decisions about you??

    It's a slippery slope. Should be sell? Yeah, I think she should. Should he be forced to sell? Nope. Does that excuse his racism and ignorance? Of course not. What it DOES do is move us away from the direction we've been headed for for a long time, which is becoming even MORE of a country where EVERYONE is always taking offense and being "disenfrachised". We've become such a country of whiners that it's incredibly embarrassing and sad. The guy shouldn't be forced to sell the team, and if he decides to keep it, the players should decide when their contracts run out whether or not they want to continue. Most all of them won't. But until then, you can't just ignore laws and the legal system when it's inconvenient or "politically incorrect" to do so.

    May 5, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  8. Robert H

    Suck it up, CNN. A MAJORITY believes he shouldn't have to sell the team. Make it the headline.

    May 5, 2014 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  9. Matt W

    Of course he should have to sell his team. A league that has 70% black players should not have an owner that is prejudice against blacks. He will hurt the league and that is really the justification for forcing the sale. He signed the contract agreeing to the league bylaws and if they get the 75% vote he should be out.

    This has nothing to do with free speech. He can say what he wants but there are consequences to your speech and now he has to live with them.

    May 5, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  10. Name Larry

    It appears forcing a sale could have been the whole idea to begin with ! With very rich ,powerful and biased people waiting to buy.

    May 5, 2014 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. YK

    It's not like he killed somebody. This is America, why single out one racist among millions?

    May 5, 2014 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. Carl

    If it is a major distraction then yes, force him to sell. If people get over it then let it slide,

    May 5, 2014 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  13. Carl

    Legally he does not have to sell the team .But then legally his coporate sponsors don't have to stay with him either. Yet he still has an obligation to pay the players and with the sponsors gone and fans boycotting he will have to pay those rich multi-million dollar salaries out of his own pocket. He evetnually wil run dry and go bankrupt.

    May 5, 2014 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  14. budshot

    It's a private business under private contractual agreements. It's legal and the NBA should be able to do this if it feels it's necessary.

    Remember that many teams are not only embarrassed and angry, but stand to lose money when they play the Clippers due to the strong possibility of boycotts and protests. So, business decision. Kick him out.

    May 5, 2014 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. Daily Llama

    Before that racist slime-ball is forced to sell his team – and he broke no laws! – I'd like to know if Ms. V. Stiviano has paid all of the applicable income taxes on all of the "gifts" – or possession / use of said gifts – supplied to her.

    May 5, 2014 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Jared

    Sterling owns a company that has bylaws and a secret constitution. Free speech only applies not being prosecuted by local, state or federal agencies. Just like any other major corporate, he broke the morals clause and the punishment is within their bylaws. Look at all the CEOs who have been fired due to infidelity, domestic abuse, drug charges, etc.
    The real issue is the dispute between Sterling and his wife. His dirty laundry was exposed because his wife filed a lawsuit against his mistress. Sterling is an attorney, he should have known that once that lawsuit was filed, the gloves came off. He comments have damaged the image the NBA wants to promote and they are using their bylaws to push him out. With technology today, nothing is private. That is the new reality we all must understand and adjust accordingly.

    May 5, 2014 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  17. Creel

    No American should ever be forced to sell his business for any reason; this is America, the land of the free. He has broken no laws, he is operating his business within the boundaries of the law, and that's all he is required to do.

    If he had beat his wife, no one would say he needs to sell his team., and that is against the law. This mob rule is getting a little crazy and while you may be enjoying persecuting people now, you won't enjoy it when it happens to you; and it will. No one is perfect, and no one is expected to be.

    May 5, 2014 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  18. Mack

    I find it incredible how many people think this is a first amendment issue. It's absolutely mindblowing how many people misunderstand how it works. A person is free to be as racist as they like, but they are not free from the repercussions. All the first does is prevent the government from punishing you for it.

    The NBA is a private organization people. They are not the government. The Clippers, and Sterling, represent the NBA. The fact that the recording was semi-private is irrelevant to the NBA; it's no longer private, it's very public and it swiftly caused damage to the Clippers by having several of their sponsors drop support, and by extension, it's damaging the NBA brand and cutting into profits. The NBA has its own set of rules and regulations and if the group of owners deem that one of their own is seriously damaging their brand, they have the power to deal with it as they see fit. Any sane business would do the same.

    May 5, 2014 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  19. Tough Skinned

    society is too sensitive, he didn't even say the N word, give me a break, get over it, I dont wanna hear this story anymore!

    May 5, 2014 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  20. Moderate2016

    The owners better think hard before they vote to force a sale. If Sterling is forced to have a fire sale and gets hit with a bad tax result because of a forced sale then he sues them, justifiably, for costing him potentially 100s of millions. They guy is banned for life, has paid $2.5 million in penalties and lost sponsors. He has paid enough for some old man racist comments made in private to his girlfriend. Yes he has a "history" with his real estate, but that is outside of basketball and he also paid for that with millions in fines. The guy's life is destroyed and he never killed anyone, hit anyone, there isn't even evidence that he held any of his players back. His coach is black. C'mon already – enough is enough.

    May 5, 2014 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    This is so stupid!!!! The man (Sterling) was in his own house. How would anyone feel if someone invaded your privacy??!! We live in America we all have a right to Freedom of Speech!!! Serling shouldnt be forced to sell

    May 5, 2014 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  22. Kenman

    Absolutely not, unless there is specific language in the NBA's charter that says team owners cannot say anything racist! And, if they do, that would certainly be hypocritical, as there is almost certainly some racist players and people are eager to treat their "stars" different from the owners that provide the infrastructure for them to play!

    In addition, this shouldn't have been done the way it was, it was obviously a set up, a sting, and is likely ILLEGAL; and since when does that mean NOTHING anymore!?

    May 5, 2014 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  23. Bill Davis

    It is a private business, and the market will determine value.

    Their was no need for Obame and CNN to get in this...we know Jane Founda, and
    Obama's Race a Games.

    May 5, 2014 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  24. Rich

    Hell no the man has the right to say what he wants to it may not be right. But no one has the right to try and force him to sell his team he owns them.

    May 5, 2014 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  25. Barro

    NO, NEVER. SELL. He did not call any bad names. He just said he did not like a certain group of people. That is called FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

    May 5, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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