NBA Fans Want Donald Sterling Out Of Basketball: Poll

FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling watches his team play in Los Angeles
FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2010 file photo, Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling watches his team play in Los Angeles. The NBA is investigating a report of an audio recording in which a man purported to be Sterling makes racist remarks while speaking to his girlfriend. NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday, APril 26, 2014, that the league is in the process of authenticating the validity of the recording posted on TMZ's website. Bass called the comments "disturbing and offensive." (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

Donald Sterling has a long way to go if he wants to convince NBA fans he deserves a second chance as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. More than 6 in 10 fans of the sport are ready to force him out.

According to the poll, 55 percent of Americans, including 73 percent of those who say they follow the NBA, approve of the punishments the league has already handed out to Sterling, including a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine. Only 28 percent of Americans overall and 18 percent of NBA fans said they disapprove of Sterling's punishment.

The survey was conducted before Monday's release of the CNN interview in which Sterling apologized for the racist remarks he had made in a recorded conversation with a former girlfriend, but also tried to deflect blame by saying he had been baited.

An earlier HuffPost/YouGov poll -- conducted largely before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the exact penalties Sterling would pay -- found that Americans were even more likely to support a fine and a suspension generally speaking. Seventy-one percent backed some kind of fine, and 66 percent supported some form of suspension (the earlier survey did not ask specifically about a lifetime ban).

According to the latest poll, NBA fans in particular want the league to go even further. Sixty-four percent of NBA fans said they support the idea of the league's forcing Sterling to sell the team, while only 26 percent were opposed. Americans overall were more divided on that issue, although a 46 percent to 33 percent plurality said they supported forcing Sterling to sell.

While Silver could hand down the multimillion-dollar fine and lifetime ban himself, forcing a team owner to sell requires a three-quarters majority vote of league owners.

The new survey finds a major gap between how black and white Americans: By a 62 percent to 18 percent margin, most black Americans said they favored forcing Sterling to sell the team. White Americans were much more closely divided, with 42 percent in favor and 37 percent opposed.

But white NBA fans agreed with black Americans: 61 percent of the former group said they support forcing Sterling out. A CBS/New York Times poll similarly found that white NBA fans support making Sterling sell by a 59 percent to 35 percent margin.

Whatever the other NBA team owners decide about Sterling's ownership stake, their decision will be closely watched. Only 12 percent of Americans said they haven't heard about the Sterling controversy, while 54 percent said they've heard a lot. Among NBA fans, only 3 percent said they hadn't heard about it and 70 percent said they're following the matter closely.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted May 7-9 among 1,000 U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.