Bruce Levenson, the managing partner of the Atlanta Hawks, is reportedly going to sell his controlling interest in the NBA franchise. This comes in the wake of an internal investigation conducted by the team after he self-reported to the league that he sent out e-mails in 2012 that contained “inappropriate and offensive” comments.
The e-mail was addressing the topic on how the team could attract more affluent white season-ticket holders. Levenson went on to say that he went around the Phillips Arena and noticed a few things.
First, the audience was 70% black, he wrote. But that wasn’t all. The stadium’s bars were 90% black. There were few fathers and sons at the games. The cheerleaders were black. The music played in the arena was hip-hop, and the after-game concerts were either rap or gospel acts.
“My 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,” he wrote. “I never felt uncomfortable, but I think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority.”
The NBA just recently saw an end to the tumultuous ride it took in the wake of the racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling. It is understandable that league is now keeping a zero tolerance stance when it comes to team ownerships’ expression of such views. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had this to say after announcing Levenson’s decision to sell:
“The views he expressed are entirely unacceptable and are in stark contrast to the core principles of the National Basketball Association,” Silver said in a statement. “He shared with me how truly remorseful he is for using those hurtful words and how apologetic he is to the entire NBA family – fans, players, team employees, business partners and fellow team owners – for having diverted attention away from our game.”
A few questions still remain as to why Levenson would voluntarily report his own act. Was looking for an excuse to sell the Hawks? Regardless, the league will now be assisting in the sale of the team and Hawks CEO Steve Koonin will oversee team operations.