Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson to sell team following racially offensive email

He admitted that fans had a right to be angry about the contents of an internal email he wrote two years ago

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The Independent Online

Bruce Levenson is to sell the National Basketball Association team Atlanta Hawks - after it was revealed he made racially offensive remarks about its supporters.

Just months after the NBA banned LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million for making racist remarks, Levenson announced on Sunday that he will sell his controlling interest in the franchise.

And he admitted that people had a right to be angry about an internal email he wrote two years ago, in which he discussed how black and white fans differed in what they preferred to see at Hawks' games.

“In trying to address those issues, I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive,” Levenson said in a statement released by the team.

“If you're angry about what I wrote, you should be. I'm angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense. We all may have subtle biases and preconceptions when it comes to race, but my role as a leader is to challenge them, not to validate or accommodate those who might hold them,” he added.

The August 2012 e-mail, written to team general manager Danny Ferry, addressed ways to boost the number of season ticket holders. It delved into the racial make-up of fans at the Hawks arena and suggested that southern white men might not be comfortable in an arena with a high percentage of African American fans.

Levenson notified the league about the email’s contents in July and the NBA then launched an independent investigation into the circumstances of the remarks, which is yet to be completed.

In April NBA Commissioner took the unprecedented move to ban Sterling from the league, following the release of a recording of an explosive conversation with former girlfriend V. Stiviano, during which Sterling told her not to associate herself with “black men”.

The Clippers has since been overtaken by billionaire Steve Ballmer.