Who Said It Worse? Sterling or Levenson

at 2:15 pm | By
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Atlanta Hawks owner, Bruce Levenson, has agreed to sell his stake of ownership in the team after an insensitive email emerged, which he is guilty of sending 2 years ago.

According to Sporting News, “the email, sent in 2012, was in regards to ticket sales and reaching out to a more diverse fan base that includes more suburban whites.” In a letter to the NBA, Levenson explained:

“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.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had set a precedent when he settled the case with previous NBA owner for the LA Clippers, Donald Sterling. He agreed that NBA owners are responsible for being role models of not only their team but for the entire NBA, and that there is no room for racism.

“I have said repeatedly that the NBA should have zero tolerance for racism, and I strongly believe that to be true. That is why I voluntarily reported my inappropriate e-mail to the NBA. After much long and difficult contemplation, I have decided that it is in the best interests of the team, the Atlanta community, and the NBA to sell my controlling interest in the Hawks franchise. 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.”

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Which NBA owner was worse? Read Bruce Levenson‘s entire email below and decide for yourself:

“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. 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 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.

I have said repeatedly that the NBA should have zero tolerance for racism, and I strongly believe that to be true. That is why I voluntarily reported my inappropriate e-mail to the NBA.

After much long and difficult contemplation, I have decided that it is in the best interests of the team, the Atlanta community, and the NBA to sell my controlling interest in the Hawks franchise.

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin will oversee all team operations and take all organizational reports as we proceed with the sale process.

I’m truly embarrassed by my words in that e-mail, and I apologize to the members of the Hawks family and all of our fans.

To the Hawks family and its fans, you have my deepest gratitude for the past ten years. Working with this team and its extraordinary executives, coaching staff, and players has been one of the highlights of my life. I am proud of our diverse, passionate, and growing legion of Hawks fans, and I will continue to join you in cheering for the best team in the NBA.”

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