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. Ronald Osborne

    He should not have said what he said! However, that was his opinion and he has the 1st amendment of free speech to say what he wants. Let him alone!

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Name

    Why is this breaking news???

    May 5, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  3. Matt

    It's not about "should". It's not about what Sterling deserves. The owners have to make a decision as to whether Donald Sterling's toxicity will harm the growth and profitability of the NBA. Will it harm player/management relations throughout the league if Sterling stays? Will banning Sterling create a riskier atmosphere for team owners to speak freely? These are business questions that must be answered.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. MonkyG

    What is the craze about what he said. He said what most white people say to their kids and friends or have in mind, and before you say anything, someone actually told my 5 year old son's kindergarten teacher that they did not want there kid talking to that B***k kid. It is nothing new. Him selling the team will only fetch him more money to spend on more bunny rabbits like V. Stiviano.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Kathy

    While I do not approve of what he said, I do not believe he should be forced to sell. Next it might be you who says the wrong thing and maybe your neighbors decide that you should sell your home. Where will it stop. Maybe he should take some sensitivity training.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Jacob

    The thing is Donald Sterling owns a franchise. When you own a franchise, you have to play by the rules set by the corporation. If you are doing something that is damaging to the brand of the corporation who allowed you to purchase a franchise, they can revoke your ownership in their business. You don't have to break the law, and it has nothing to do with 1st amendment rights. It has to do with MONEY.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. Lizzie

    Watch out big brother is listening. Maybe the NSA should go through their tapes to find everyone that has EVER spoken a word that can offend someone.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. Dalton

    He's a jerk, but most people are at times. Forcing him to sell the team has legal issues that could take years. With his health issues I doubt a decision by a court would be reached before Sterling dies.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. GrowUp

    He didn't say this at a press conference, or other public forum. He was expressing his thoughts in private. Moreover, if you listen to the recording it is clear that the woman was pulling the statements out of him all the while she was making self-serving comments to make herself look angelic. The bottom line is, what you say, or don't say, in private is nobody's business and the NBA is out of line in fining him let alone forcing him to sell. Echoes of the NSA issue.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. tommy

    I don't have much problem either way..the rules are the rules and he agreed to them..but I have 1 qusution to those who say you think players should be forced to play for the team who drafted them? do you think the NBA has the right to ban anybody under 20? what about there freedom

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Victor Evil

    You are far more talented than the people you work for. You know it, and chances are, they know it too. So therefore, shouldn't you be running the show? Why aren't you calling the shots? Aren't you tired of watching your fat cat employers get filthy rich off of your hard work? Exactly – the time has come for you to seize power. So go ahead: undermine your boss. Plot to overthrow the CEO. You can do a better job than them, anyway. This is how capitalism works! Hey, I think you knew this already.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. Hoosierdaddy

    No – there are Hate crime laws on the Books- BUT an opinion or right to freedom of speech IS NOT a Hate crime. We or you may not like the person, but being a "racist" is NOT against the Law Only if reason of breaking the law.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. a;bert brown

    i thought this was america , how can you force some one tp sell if they don't want too, un american i say.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. smittah

    This really shouldn't even come up as an option. We are in a nation that respects freedom of speech regardless if we agree with those statements or not. It is not our place to judge or decide in the matter of what happens to his team. If you feel offended and disagree with what he said you have the right to boycott his team. If his players are not happy with what he said they can quit. If the fans are not happy they can choose to not buy tickers or pay for over priced concessions. Why is it when ever I see an older person who is a bigot everyone thinks they are foolish and you just need to ignore them. Why does Donald Sterling need to be treated any differently just because he is wealthy?

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. ogamidiagoro

    Racist or not they were private conversations.

    The NBA should not have the right to do this.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. gary

    I don't think he should be forced to sell the team. This is a man who has made several hundred black athletes millionaires who are set for life for playing a silly game. He was one of the first owners to hire a black general manager. Perhaps his words are insensitive but where he puts his money speaks alot louder (and less racist) than his mouth.

    May 5, 2014 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. Peace

    I am not white.. I have heard this audio few times. The woman set him up. He is not a saint..He has a history of being racial. But with due process of the law, I dont think NBA is right in this illegal taping. This opens a can of worm...Are you going let others tape NBA athletes talk rubbish and punish them with the tape is out.. Whether Sterling is right or wrong, there has to be due process.. I agree with Mark Cuban.
    Also, that woman should be put in jail..I would not hesitate to think she was black mailing him as well.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. Hdrake

    No. He should not be forced to sell.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. booger

    He doesn't own the team, a trust owns the team they can't force him to sell it.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. Earl

    I do not believe that he should be required to sell his team or even be prohibited from attending games. The comments made where while he was in his own home. If action is taken for things spoken in our home, there is likely not one person that would not be found guilty of saying something that someone else takes objection to. What ever has happened to the Freedom of Speech that comes with being an American. It is absolutely rediculas that we cannot speak freely in our own homes. If someone doesn't like what was said, don't work for the man but give him his rights as you would expect others to give your rights to condemn.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. Rich

    Here's my problem with this: I think that he is a bigot and a racist but what he said was in private. I think he should keep his team and she should go to jail for not asking his consent prior to recording a conversation. He should also sue her for defammation of character.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  22. Bill

    What happened to free speech in a private conversation?
    No, he should not be forced to sell.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  23. buddhawoman

    I say yes he should. Then give it to the homeless shelter for the vets

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. symily

    How can he be racist if he has a bi-racial girlfriend. Have black people never said a racist thing towards whites? Really NEVER!?!?!?!?

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. Julian B Duron

    Sell to wife for $1 dollar no problem!

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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