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.