Atlanta Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson: An Honest Face of Racism in Atlanta.
(ThyBlackMan.com) A two year old email was leaked and all hell broke loose over the weekend as Atlanta Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson was found to have made some racist comments in correspondence to General Manager Danny Ferry and two other members of the team’s ownership group. Levenson complained that the games were attended by too many Blacks, that he wanted to “get 35-55 white males and corporations to buy season tickets,” and that Black crowds “scared away the whites”.
Who exactly are “the whites” anyway? In the email-aparently leaked by a disgruntled employee or an absolute idiot-Levenson went on to gripe about the lack of white cheerleaders (and the fact that there were too many Black ones), the fact that there weren’t too many “fathers and sons at the games” and “there are simply not enough affluent Black fans to build a significant season ticket base.”
Levenson made some solid points in what has quickly become Donald Sterling-gate: Part Two. The crowds are majority Black. So are the cheerleaders and dance squad. Same for the concession stand workers, ushers, Phillips Arena security and Atlanta Police Department officers stationed down by the court. This I know. Full disclosure: I covered the team for two seasons for separate newspapers in town and still have connections within the franchise’s infrastructure to the point that I often attend games on a company issued press pass.
At this point in my career I attend NBA games because of two reasons: I love to watch the game of basketball being played at the highest level and I feel the most comfortable watching it amongst my people. Black people. The city of Atlanta is 54 percent Black, the NBA is over 75 percent Black. It should not take a genius or even a Bruce Levenson to figure out who or whom will be packing the arena 41 times a season to watch basketball.
Let’s be clear here: Bruce Levenson is not the only member of the Atlanta Hawk ownership group, coaching staff, heck, fan club, that feels this way. He’s just the one that got caught. The franchise is worth $425 million dollars-where does Bruce Levenson think the money is coming from? Black money is powering the franchise that will no longer be his by the time the regular season starts in November. League Commissioner Adam Silver and Bruce Levenson agreed to have him sell his stake in what is the 28th most valuable franchise in the league of 30 teams. Mr. Levenson has a lot of questions to answer but probably won’t the same way his fellow ex-owner Sterling didn’t. On Sunday he apologized via an issued statement and will hide behind his lawyers until the story passes and the sale is done.
The Atlanta Hawks aren’t media darlings. They are a small blip on the sports radar screen if a blip at all. That does not mean this story should go away or be put on the shelf. Racism will never die, unfortunately. Racist will die but before they leave the planet Earth they will have the opportunity to teach the things Bruce Levenson typed on his computer and sent out into the ether. That is the saddest part-Bruce Levenson has the wealth and cache to affect other people and this is how he thinks. Best believe he’s not alone in this negative thinking.
I will be in Phillips Arena for opening night and for many more Atlanta Hawks games following that one. I will enjoy the sport I love from press row as I watch along with both the Black and white sports writers not thinking one bit about Bruce Levenson and his email. The bigger question is can the Atlanta Hawks players-the roster is 85 percent Black-do the same?
Staff Writer; Donnell Suggs