Sunday, September 7, 2014

DEVELOPING: Levenson To Sell Hawks Interest After "Racist E-Mail" Discovered (UPDATED With E-Mail))

((HT: Yahoo!Sports-Wojnarowski))

The Atlanta Hawks are the schleprock of the NBA...

No matter who the owner is and how much alleged investment is involved and/or promised to the community, nothing has changed since the days of Ted Turner being the media mogul/magnate and the days of Dominique versus Larry Bird.

The destination is as undesirable as you can get. The fan base small at best and the town is apathetic toward the franchise since the cirle of life lends itself to no marquee players- which means there is little reason to wander to a downtown arena in a mediocre conference where playoff appearances are, literally, assured and the team has to overpay to bring talent in- or get them to stay.

Remember Joe Johnson...???

So, when Adrian Wojnarowski announced on his Twitter feed that Levenson was selling, the HQ has the distinct feeling that some other action was on the cusp of happening (oh, like, a lawsuit or something...) and Levenson is out...

Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement once the e-mail was discovered...

An e-mail written in 2012...

“Following Bruce Levenson notifying the league office this July of his August 2012 email, the NBA commenced an independent investigation regarding the circumstances of Mr. Levenson’s comments.

Prior to the completion of the investigation, Mr. Levenson notified me last evening that he had decided to sell his controlling interest in the Atlanta Hawks. As Mr. Levenson acknowledged, the views he expressed are entirely unacceptable and are in stark contrast to the core principles of the National Basketball Association. 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.

I commend Mr. Levenson for self-reporting to the league office, for being fully cooperative with the league and its independent investigator, and for putting the best interests of the Hawks, the Atlanta community, and the NBA first.

We will be working with the Hawks ownership group on the appropriate process for the sale of the team and I have offered our full support to Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, who will now oversee all team operations.

The NBA and its teams have long had in place anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies in order to facilitate respectful and diverse workplaces. Earlier this summer, the league re-doubled its efforts by, among other things, making it mandatory for all league and team personnel to receive annual training on these issues."

Levenson issued a statement where he touched on what was said as he was trying to figure out:
 ways to increase attendance at games:

"In trying to address those issues, an e-mail I wrote 2 years ago that was inappropriate and offensive. I trivialized our fans by making cliched assumptions about their interests and by stereotyping their assumptions about one another."

"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."

The Hawks, and their interim CEO Steve Koonin released their own statement:

To the City of Atlanta and Hawks Fans,

Today’s statement from Controlling Owner Bruce Levenson is extremely disappointing and the email that he sent over two years ago was alarming, offensive and most of all, completely unacceptable and does not reflect the principles and values of the Hawks organization. In partnership with the NBA, we will work to ensure that a new ownership team will be put in place that is united and committed to the Atlanta community.

Steve Koonin

CEO, Atlanta Hawks

It marks the next, and now, last involvement of the Atlanta Spirit, LLC group in this market that has been nothing short of an absymal failure on multiple levels- arena, ownership, legal battles, behind-the-scenes desires to sell, the loss of a hockey franchise, and now "racist" e-mails that are sending them out of town on rail...

But far too late for any of it to matter as, the HQ is certain, there are very few tears shed...

Exhibit A being below...
((HT: Sportsnet))

For the record, here's a link to the full e-mail which says in part:

My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent
black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing
threatening going on in the arean back then. 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. 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. When I hear some people saying
the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.

I have been open with our executive team about these concerns. I have told them I want some white
cheerleaders and while i don't care what the color of the artist is, i want the music to be music familiar
to a 40 year old white guy if that's our season tixs demo. i have also balked when every fan picked out of
crowd to shoot shots in some time out contest is black. I have even bitched that the kiss cam is too

Not good...

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