Slammed: Atlanta Hawks’ Owner Sells Shares Over Racist Email

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The National Basketball Association just exhaled and placed Donald Sterling’s bigoted vitriol behind it, thanks largely to Steve Ballmer paying $2 billion for the Los Angeles Clippers and putting Sterling out to pasture where he belongs.

And now, we discover the NBA has another racist loitering among its owner class: Bruce Levenson of the Atlanta Hawks.

Being a simpleton in 2014 is laughable enough. Being a bigoted owner in the NBA like Donald Sterling is hilarious. However, being a prejudicial xenophobe in the NBA…in ATLANTA…feels like a rejected pilot script from a bad “man turns life around” sitcom. Yet, here we are, discussing an email Levenson wrote two years ago claiming his audience (again, in ATLANTA) was “too heavily African-American.”

Not a history or geography buff, this guy.

According to USA Today, Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson “has self-reported to the NBA that he sent a racist e-mail in August 2012 and will sell his interest in the team.” From the release:

levenson sterling“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.”

Since 2004, Levenson has been the controlling owner of the Atlanta-based NBA franchise. Although they have had more uniform changes than playoff appearances in that span, people — regardless of pigmentation or musical preferences — were optimistic about their team’s chances this year. And now, this email is in heavy circulation.

“The views he expressed are entirely unacceptable and are in stark contrast to the core principles of the National Basketball Association,” commissioner Adam 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.”

Levenson was pretty vocal about Donald Sterling getting the boot out of the NBA, and you know what they say about karma.

So why did he “self-report” on this email? We’re going to make a wild, totally unfounded guess and assume (with the help of SBNation) that someone else used the email as leverage to force Levenson out and that the NBA framed it as something he chose to do in order to minimize the damage.

But what do we know?!

If you are so inclined, here’s the full, unedited message:

From: Bruce Levenson

Sent: 8/25/2012 11:47:02 PM

Subject: Re: Business/Game ops

1. from day one i have been impressed with the friendliness and professionalism of the arena staff — food vendors, ushers, ticket takers, etc. in our early years when i would bring folks from dc they were blown away by the contrast between abe pollin’s arena and philips. some of this is attributable to southern hospital and manners but bob and his staff do a good job of training. To this day, I can not get the ushers to call me Bruce yet they insist on me calling them by their first names.

2. the non-premium area food is better than most arenas, though that is not saying much. i think there is room for improvement and creativity. Levy is our food vendor so we don’t have much control but they have been good partners. i have wished we had some inconic offereing like boog’s barbeque at the baseball stadium in balt.