Atlanta Hawks Owner to Sell Team After Self-Reporting Offensive Email

The owner of another NBA franchise will be selling his team after making racist statements. Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson released a statement this weekend apologizing for an email he wrote in 2012 that contained offensive statements, announcing that he would be selling his portion of the team. In his statement, Levenson said:

I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive. I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests [i.e. hip hop vs. country, white vs. black cheerleaders, etc.] and by stereotyping their perceptions of one another [i.e. that white fans might be afraid of our black fans]. By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans … If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them.

In the 2012 email to others involved in the Hawks organization, which you can read here, Levenson said that he didn’t think that more white fans attended games because the “black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant [sic] season ticket base.” He went on to add that. “On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don’t know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. [sic]” However, throughout the email, Levenson made repeated suggestions about how to appeal to white fans, including using music that is familiar to “a 40 year old white guy,” focusing on more white fans with the “kiss cam” and not having as many black cheerleaders. Earlier this year, the NBA forced the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers after the owner, Donald Sterling, was heard on a leaked phone call making racist statements …

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