Abdul-Jabbar protects Hawks’ owner over remarks towards team’s fans

abdul-jabbar-glassesAs soon as the NBA finished the “Donald Sterling case”, another similar one came up, this time with the Atlanta Hawks team and their owner Bruce Levenson.

Levenson has recently said that he will sell his share of the team after an investigation revealed some of his comments in an email to have racist remarks.

The email was sent to team staff, and included Levenson’s idea to build a “more diverse fan base that includes more suburban whites.”

Levenson admitted he sent those emails, and even issued an apology.

“I’m truly embarrassed by my words in that e-mail, and I apologize to the members of the Hawks family and all of our fans,” Levenson said in a statement published on Basketball Insiders.

“By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans,” Levenson said. “If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be. I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense.”

Meanwhile, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote in a column on Time, showing his support for Levenson, while a lot of people were upset by the whole incident and Levenson in particular.

“The only problem is that Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson is no Donald Sterling. Nor is his email racist. In fact, his worst crime is misguided white guilt,” Abdul-Jabbar said in his article.

“I read Levenson’s email. Here’s what I concluded: Levenson is a businessman asking reasonable questions about how to put customers in seats. In the email, addressed to Hawks president Danny Ferry, Levenson wonders whether (according to his observations) the emphasis on hip-hop and gospel music and the fact that the cheerleaders are black, the bars are filled with 90% blacks, kiss cams focus on black fans and time-out contestants are always black has an effect on keeping away white fans. Seems reasonable to ask those questions,” said Abdul-Jabbar.

“was filled mostly with whites and he wanted to attract blacks, wouldn’t he be asking how they could de-emphasize white culture and bias toward white contestants and cheerleaders?” he said.

Lakers’ great added that businesspeople should have the right to wonder how to appeal to diverse groups in order to increase business.

“This is a business email that is pretty harmless in terms of insulting anyone — and pretty fascinating in terms of seeing how the business of running a team really works,” Abdul-Jabbar said.

“(Levenson) wasn’t valuing white fans over blacks; he was trying to figure out a way to change what he thought was the white perception in Atlanta so he could sell more tickets. That’s his job,” Abdul-Jabbar said.


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