Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson disclosed a racist email sent in 2012 that stated, "the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base." Levenson disclosed the letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver in July 2014; he will sell his controlling interest in the team prior to the completion of a league investigation.
Levenson sent the email in August 2012 to the Hawks' general manager, Danny Ferry, and co-owner, Ed Peskowitz; he also sent it to his business partner, Todd Foreman. In trying to solve low season-ticket sales, Levenson said the fans, cheerleaders and fan events skewed to a "black audience." "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," Levenson said in the email.
Levenson apologized for the email and announced he will sell the team in a statement released on Sunday. "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)," reads Levenson's statement.
Silver released his own statement on the racist email, noting Levenson reported the email to the NBA and cooperated with the league during the investigation. "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," Silver said in a statement.
On April 29, 2014, former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life after he made racist comments during a phone conversation with his girlfriend. Sterling sold the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
You can read Levenson's email below.