When Adam Silver announced that Bruce Levenson was selling the Atlanta Hawks for sending a racist email, the NBA commissioner commended the owner for “self-reporting” the email to the league office.
It turns out the admission was not quite as forthright and altruistic as the commissioner made the situation sound.
According to The New York Times, the email, which speculated the team was having trouble selling season tickets because there were too many black fans at the games, only emerged during an independent investigation spurred by racist comments allegedly made by general manager Danny Ferry.
An independent legal firm hired by the team interviewed 19 people and examined 24,000 documents, according to The Times. It was at that point that the racist email was discovered. That email was then forwarded to the NBA.
Two months after the NBA began an investigation into the email sent by Levenson, he decided to sell the team.
Many are also upset that Levenson was one of the NBA’s most vocal critics of Donald Sterling after his racist remarks became public. At the time, Levenson told 92.9 The Game that he had “zero tolerance for this sort of bigoted, racial commenting.”
In many ways, Levenson’s comments are actually worse than Sterling’s because they were not made in private and were made during the act of conducting team business.
In the end, Levenson was probably right to volunteer to sell the team. But it is hard not to imagine that Levenson’s fate was already sealed and the league would not have allowed him to remain after forcing Sterling out.
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