Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson is selling his controlling share in the NBA team after some racial comments he made have come to light.
Yet another NBA team owner has been thrust into the spotlight for racist remarks. An email that Bruce sent just over two years ago went public. In it he expressed his hypothesis that the atmosphere as too black to keep white fans coming out for games.
“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,” Levenson said in the email released Sunday by the Hawks.
“Please don’t get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arena 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.”
Having seen the mess that Donald Sterling went through earlier this year, likely influenced his decision to give up ownership of the Hawks. However, he also released a statement claiming that he felt a moral responsibility to step down from his position.
“I have said repeatedly that the NBA should have zero tolerance for racism, and I strongly believe that to be true,” Bruce said in the statement. “That is why I voluntarily reported my inappropriate email to the NBA.”
He added, “If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that the team’s operations will now be overseen by Hawks CEO Steve Koonin, and he praised Bruce for stepping forward on his own.
“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,” Adam 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.”
Read Bruce’s email below: