From the Chicago Tribune:
Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced that he is selling his share of the team after he admitted to writing an e-mail two years ago that contained racially insensitive remarks about fans.
In July, the NBA launched an investigation after Levenson self-reported the August 2012 e-mail to the league. Before the investigation was complete, Levenson notified the NBA office on Saturday night that he will sell the team.
“Over the past several years, I’ve spent a lot of time grappling with low attendance at our games and the need for the Hawks to attract more season ticket holders and corporate sponsors,” Levenson said in a statement Sunday. “Over that time, I’ve talked with team executives about the need for the Hawks to build a more diverse fan base that includes more suburban whites, and I shared my thoughts on why our efforts to bridge Atlanta’s racial sports divide seemed to be failing.
“In trying to address those issues, I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive. I trivialized our fans by making cliched 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.”
But is this actually “racist”?
In the yes camp:
Civil rights leaders ask for meeting with Hawks officials after Bruce Levenson's racially charged email (ESPN) #… http://t.co/kIXkLbvBMW
— Jumpman Argentina (@JumpmanARG) September 8, 2014
— Rachel Décoste (@RachelDecoste) September 8, 2014
Bruce Levenson email wrong on many levels – Peachtree Hoops http://t.co/KVQ9SnAVEY
— Weston Ludeke (@WestonLudeke) September 8, 2014
But here’s Kareem Abdul-Jabar, a vocal critic of Don Sterling, defending Levenson, calling it business, not racism:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dismisses the outcry over the “racist” email the Atlanta Hawks owner sent. http://t.co/0ltQrFS8V2
— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) September 8, 2014
And there’s a third possibility: Levenson self-reported the email to get a better price for the team?
You self-report you're a racist and announce that 1 of the lowest-attendence teams is for sale? Anything for $2 bil http://t.co/pqn1U8FD1P
— Mel Eperthener (@bcassidy1788) September 7, 2014
Door number three here might just be the winner.
More on the story:
Atlanta Hawks owner's demise started even as he was one of Donald Sterling's strongest critics http://t.co/Lm3AijMIND
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 8, 2014
Atlanta Hawks Owner, Bruce Levenson, Pulls a Donald Sterling… Outs Himself for Super Racist Email http://t.co/xiKg3wo2je
— TMZ (@TMZ) September 8, 2014
— USA TODAY Sports NBA (@usatodaynba) September 7, 2014