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. andrea

    NO of course not , this was a private life issue it has nothing to do with his competency as an owner , he ahs a contract inpklace that cannot be changed just because some other guy says so. and further more, this was a set up with criminal intent she was blackmailing him, and when he didn't pay her off she would record or "make Up " some recording to bring to the public, you have the wrong Person , YOU ned to convist and sue this gold digger! turened criminal and blackmailer , SUE the short of of her! she is the criminal not him you ididots!

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Kris

    He should not be forced to, but he should. The team's worth is so much more than he paid. Take the billion and run

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Gary

    Whatever happened to "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"? Liberals abandoned that notion long ago, preferring to personally destroy those with whom they disagreed; conservatives continued to defend that position until recently, but I guess there's a point where you get tired of being attacked yourself simply for defending someone else's right to an unpopular opinion.

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. Stewart

    Sell the team??? Hell NO!!! He said what he feels and is sorry. That's that. And I DON'T approve of "guaranteed" contracts either.

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. Graham

    Sterling never once used the "N" word. He was illegally recorded and this more than likely is how he was brought up. We
    are still supposed to have free speech, even if every one does not agree with what we say. I think this will harm our relations with the african- american community.

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. carlos mckay

    Just what did this man say? Was it colored? Then we need to ban the NAACP.

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Millik

    I think this matter is so hypocritical of the NBA. It's the most racist organization in all of sports: Their front office brass are 100% Jew, and if you aren't Jew, you can't do business with the NBA. I've got no problem with Jews, nor Jewish front office staffs, but I think it's pretty ironic they are forcing an owner to sell a team because of some things that he SAID, when in fact they are DOING racist things every day in the front offices.


    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. Barbara P

    The media waits for a caucasian to say something blacks consider offensive to turn into a feeding frenzy. That tells me they create their own racism.

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. ju

    1st we have freedom of speech in this country and the freedom applies whether people like what is said or not and this freedom is given to all without penalty or prejudice, case closed !

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. smith

    I think what Sterling said was stupid and dumb but his speech is protected. Major fines and banned for life Im good with that. Selling his team is his choice.

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  11. Vinnie

    If you don't approve of the NSA spying on your e-mail, texts, etc. but don't mind that Sterling's private conservation was recorded without his consent, then you are a hypocrite.

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. Mervel

    Well the NBA is a private association/network who can indeed enforce whatever membership rules they want. They can kick a team out without a sale for that matter. So if for marketing reasons this is a bad deal for them they have every right to make him sell. They could also just say ok no more t.v, no more revenue sharing no more recruiting etc.

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. Jeff

    What happened to "Free Speech"? Are Americans not allowed to voice their opinion any more? His comment wasnt even made publicly.... 🙁

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  14. jeff

    Has he shown racial bias in his hiring of players ? No.
    Did he express his personal feelings on race to his girlfriend in a private conversation ? Yes.
    That shouldn't be grounds for forcing the man to sell his team.

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. primenumber19

    Idiots, first amendment protects us against the government, this is a private business, big difference. Don't believe me? Go call your boss an a hole and see if you get fired or not.

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. deb

    no, absolutely not. he has the right to say whatever he pleases in the privacy of his own home. it's not the NBA's business what he says outside of ANY NBA function whatsoever. i hope donald sterling gives the NBA the big finger and anyone else that tries to force him to sell.

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. george

    Enough already...........Sterling is a knucklehead – NO DISPUTING THAT - but this is nothing more than bullyism..... the likes of Magic, Sharpton and the NAACP all jumping on the band wagon crying grievous foul -– but let's be real they're just looking for repayment for the sins of 150 years ago..............and they weren't even around. STOP THE GRANDSTANDING, IT'S GETTING OLD. Put Sterling in the backroom and tell him to keep his mouth shut.

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. shane

    from the above seems like a lot less then 47%

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    If you must judge Mr. Sterling, judge the man by what he does, not by what he says.

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  20. Ed

    He should be forced to sell his girlfriend

    May 5, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. Tim

    Absolutely not. Since when did we get "thought and speech policemen" in America. So the guy said a horrible thing . . . that doesn't mean someone should be able to take his assets away or force him to sell them. If this was China or something than maybe that would be acceptable, but not in America. I can't believe this is even being discussed.

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

    Only in America! Was they laws broken if so were are the law suites. Then shut up about play ball.

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

    NO. What about Freedom of Speech (and thought)? Too much is made of private conversations lately. Pretty soon, there will be no freedoms left!

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

    What next, the thought police?

    May 5, 2014 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  25. Mark Joanou

    I think a private conversation should have been kept private, I don't care if he is racist, TMZ should be sued for MILLIONS.

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