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. Brian

    This whole story reeks of hippocracy. All the talking heads and holier than thou sportcasters that never used a racial slur or told an ethnic joke are a bunch or hippocrites. He should not be forced to sell the team and I hope he wins in court and he can transfer ownership to his son-in-law. The conversation was supposed to be private and the arm candy bimbo should be sued for extortion.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  2. Hueypilot

    Interesting yahoo article indicates if Sterling is forced to sell the team, his profits become non-taxable. Imagine that. Purchase for $12M, sell for $600M and avoid the $120M cap gain (I'm not an accountant – assume this falls under the 20% cap gain rate; unsure of CA treatment). But – fundamentally he could benefit from a huge financial windfall if this sale is "forced".

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Karl Schneider

    When political correctness can cause, or even threaten to cause, a person to lose his property because he exercised his First Amendment rights....especially in a purported private venue...this idiot nation has truly gone down the toilet.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  4. Lizzie

    Thomas Fabian
    How can they say 47% of all Americans when no one asked me? I am an American.
    - you don't count.

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

    If you can rely on the poll results, it just shows the country is still half filled with racists.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. paul

    Why should the man be forced to sell his team? Get over it already, no one really cares.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    No, Freedom of speech. Like it or not its Americas way.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. Rick

    No, he should not be forced to sell. He should tell the NBA to take it and shove it. I hope he takes them to court and ties it up in our wonderful judicial systems for years.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. drjohnnyraider

    He should voluntarily step away from the franchise. Not sure why he hasn't done this already. If he is foolish enough to hang on, he should be committed to a psychiatric facility for a full battery of tests. If he is unable to find his humanity, then he should be required to sell the team, and purchase an island for himself and anyone who wants to be around him.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  10. jah

    im not sure if he should be forced to sell his team racism has no place in this world its wrong and ignorant and if your not against it your for it.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. bill park

    if name calling is a crime have of the usa would be in a law suite give million bucks to naacp and they will shut up.
    money talks bull chit walks .
    how many times have I been called sob and a dam jew but no one take up for me so enough is enough.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Kriptoker

    Everyone who thinks he should be forced to sell this team which is his own possession must also agree with forcing Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson to sell everything they own as well, right?

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. Edward

    No he should not be forced to sell. If a person making "ist" IN PRIVATE is forced to sell his business than who would own the businesses in this country? He was exercising his freedom of speech, He owns an NBA team, which means he pays the coaches and players. He is being prosecuted for his business dealings that were discriminating.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. flash8910

    If I made a comment like "my garden is lazy" and he happens to be Mexican, does this mean my neighbors can force me to sell my house?

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. The_JillyBean

    The reason Sterling is being forced to sell is because he's damaged the franchise. The NBA is concerned it will translate into lost revenue if Sterling remains owner. Any team who plays against the Clippers could lose revenue from consumables sold during the game if people stay away in boycott of Sterling ownership.

    In that regard, because Sterling's language and behavior can and will adversely affect the other franchisee's income, the league would be in their right to force sale of the Clippers by Sterling.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. Phillip

    Lest ye be judged...

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. lizzy

    why should this man be forced to give up what he paid for just because spoke his mind or said what he said that's his rights

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. Toy

    Yes he should have to sell or let anyone who is not comfortable working under him out of there contract. So we all know that is not going to happen so sell sell sell. He don't deserve to keep making money off of the minorities as he called them. Complete idiot!!!!!!!!!!

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    This is America and free country, no one would force someone to sell something belong to them if they don't want to. If Sterling banned for life that's fine lets live it at that. Why force him to sell, he got his wife and relatives to look after the team. If you have problem with Sterling himself let someone else take care of it. If you don't want to play for him that your choice to make not his.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  20. frit frat

    He has a mask on - made from his own skin. She looks like cat woman. Just observations..

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    No, he should not be forced to sale. He may have to turn full control over to some one else, but its his corp. in a way to speak.

    May 5, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. Peter_NY

    No matter how abominable his comments, you can't force a guy to sell his team just because you don't like what he has to say. While racism is deplorable, it goes against our basic freedom to do so.

    May 5, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  23. Jason

    No, he shouldn't. So he said words the PC Nazis don't like. If Michael Vic can still play ball this guy shouldn't be forced out of his ownership. Yes what he said was ignorant but come on people, don't you think the world is full of alot worse (that nothing is done about because people are too busy getting upset and oh no OFFENDED over relatively silly things).

    May 5, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  24. DogBitez

    CNN and I differ on what we consider to be "Breaking News".

    May 5, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. Michael Kimberlin

    No, evidence was obtained illegally, add to that what the man says in his own home is his business not the NBA's or any other persons.

    May 5, 2014 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
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