Following the band of former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, views on race cues another NBA sale.
On Saturday night the Atlanta Hawks head of ownership group Bruce Levenson informed Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner, of his decision to sell the team. This announcement is a result of an ongoing investigation of a racially insensitive email sent by Levenson.
In August 2012, Levenson composed a message explaining why whites no longer attend the basketball team games. The email was sent Danny Ferry, the team’s general manager, and Ed Peskowitz and Todd Foreman.
In the email, Levenson presumed the reason the team could not attract white males and corporations to purchase season tickets is because the audience makeup consist of 70 percent Blacks. Levenson even goes as far to say his “theory is that the Black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent Black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”
Consequently, last month the NBA launched an internal investigation against Levenson.
In a statement made on Sunday night Levenson addressed the email. He said, “In trying to address [the Hawks attendance] issues, 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.”