Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson will sell the NBA franchise after it was announced that he wrote a racially insensitive email in 2012. Levenson wrote that his “theory [about low ticket sales] 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 followed that with: “Please don’t get me wrong.” NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the sale together with Levenson, who apologized for his actions. This comes just four months after then LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling made racial comments that were released in to the public sphere by his mistress. Sterling was forced to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion.
Levenson, in an effort to attract more “white suburban fans” to Hawks games, wrote GM Danny Ferry an email that had racism in its marrow. Levenson wrote that the Hawk season ticket base was so low “because we can’t get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tixs and they are the primary demo for season tickets around the league.” Levenson listed the following things as being wrong at Hawks games:
— it’s 70 pct black
— the cheerleaders are black
— the music is hip hop
— at the bars it’s 90 pct black
— there are few fathers and sons at the games