Racism Pays? One NBA owner may know the way?

By CityFella,

Setting the ground rules,I am bit of a cynic.

Moving on…………

It wasn’t planned (or was it? ) but the notorious Donald Sterling may be on to something.

The National Basketball Association would not allow a notorious racist control its franchise and IT was going to force the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers!

The NBA has had many challenges of late.  Just a few years ago more than half of its franchises were losing money.  Big Money!    Public funds were tapped.

For many, Magic Johnson and company were the early favorites.   But who knew a line would form to buy the Clippers.   And a line formed, no it wasn’t for the new I Phone 6, it was to buy the Clippers.     This wasn’t a build us a new a shiny building or were leaving town. This was an yes, we have money, and we want the Clippers just where they are and were gonna love the fans and make then feel like kings.

    Two Billion Dollars

According to Forbes Magazine,  Los Angeles Clippers was worth 324 million dollars in 2012.  (The Sacramento  Kings 300 million)  The following year ,the team was worth 430 million (Sac Kings 525 mil).

Last month, Steve Ballmer took control of the Clippers after paying 2 with a capital “B” billion dollars.

To put this in perspective, last year the New York Nicks was worth 1.1 Billion dollars and the Los Angeles Lakers a billion dollars.     When you consider Sterling bought the team for 12.5 million he and his family did alright for themselves.

Atlanta Hawks Owner Bruce Levenson was a bad man 

He says he is, and must be punished so he is selling his team  

In 2012, he sent an email to his to his General Manager Danny Ferry.  In the email Levenson is rambling about the Hawks declining business.

 In 2011, the franchise lost 7.3 million.  2012 15 million and 19 million in 2013 (source: Forbes) 

Here are a few excerpts from the email ( To see the email its entirety click the link below)



Before we bought the hawks and for those couple years immediately after in an effort to make the arena look full (at the nba’s urging) thousands and thousands of tickets were being giving away, predominantly in the black community, adding to the overwhelming black audience.

My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don’t know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.

Gradually things have changed. My unscientific guess is that our crowd is 40 pct black now, still four to five times all other teams. And my further guess is that 40 pct still feels like 70 pet to some whites at our games. Our bars are still overwhelmingly black.

This is obviously a sensitive topic, but sadly i think it is far and way the number one reason our season ticket base is so low.

And many of our black fans don’t have the spendable income which explains why our f&b and merchandise sales are so low. At all white thrasher games sales were nearly triple what they are at hawks games (the extra intermission explains some of that but not all).

Our player intro is flat. We manufacture a lot of noise but because of the late arriving crowd and the fact that a lot of blacks dont seem to go as crazy cheering (another one of my theories) as whites, it is not great. 

Lost in the email : its a bit of truth.   Could it be the team, is the reason people aren’t filling the seats.   The Hawks currently own the second-longest run (behind the Sacramento Kings) of not winning an NBA title at 56 years.


Last Sunday, Levenson  apologized for the email on Sunday, calling it inappropriate and offensive, and said he had decided to sell his controlling interest in the team.

“If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be,” he said in a statement. The Hawks also published the full contents of his 2012 email online. “I’m angry at myself, too. It was inflammatory nonsense.”

Mr. Levenson informed Mr. Silver of his intention to sell the team Saturday night, the commissioner said, and the league plans to work with the Hawks on the sale process.

Money in Racism?

The Atlanta Hawks are estimated to have lost $23.9 million on basketball operations last season(2014), the fifth-largest loss in the league, trailing Brooklyn, Charlotte, Minnesota, and Detroit, per a confidential league memo obtained by Grantland.

The current value of the Hawks is just under 400 million dollars.  If the franchise was sold for 800 million, Levenson and the NBA will have made a tidy profit.   100 million could go toward an unencumbered and hot Soccer franchise.

To this cynic, this racist scandal seems to be orchestrated.

First things first.  According to the NBA, Levenson reported the email to the league back in July.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported: The NBA sat on that information and shared it only with a tight inner circle. Only a few details leaked out and that set off some panic among the teams fearing that one of their own could be involved.

Wojnarowski also reports that Silver might not have had quite as much support in ousting Donald Sterling as was originally thought. Some owners like Mark Cuban expressed concern over where it might ultimately lead and how the move might affect other franchises.

According to Wojnarowski, the NBA sat on that information and shared it only with a tight inner circle. Only a few details leaked out and that set off some panic among the teams fearing that one of their own could be involved.

Wojnarowski also reports that Silver might not have had quite as much support in ousting Donald Sterling as was originally thought. Some owners like Mark Cuban expressed concern over where it might ultimately lead and how the move might affect other franchises.

Atlanta’s WSB-TV’s Zach Klein obtained a letter  allegedly sent in June 2014 from Hawks minority owner Michael Gearon to Levenson demanding Ferry’s ouster.

In the letter Gearon wrote:  On a conference call with management and ownership, Ferry described free agent target Luol Deng “he has a little African in him, not in a bad way, but he’s a guy who would have a nice store out front, but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”

To read the letter( Click on the Link below) 


Yesterday, A scheduled meeting between Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin and Atlanta civil rights leaders has been cancelled, leading one of the leaders to say his community was greatly offended.

The Rev. Markel Hutchins announced Wednesday’s meeting was called off “at the last minute.” He later said he received a call from Hawks spokesman Garin Narain on Tuesday night asking that it be postponed.

In the next few weeks there might be other email, communicates demonstrating how far the racist cancer had spread within the Hawks organization and to get rid of the cancer a new regime is needed.

A BIG TMZ bump in the Road

For a scandal to be effective, its needs fuel and time to spread.  The Levenson/ Hawks story officially broke on Sunday, September 7.  On September 8, 2014, TMZ released additional footage from an elevator camera showing Rice punching Palmer.

By Tuesday, The NFL/Ray Rice scandal was National News.


Cynics United 

Sterling vs Levenson (There’s no there there)

Perhaps Levenson should have used a more incendiary word or words ( you know) .  The racism label isn’t sticking.

Jonathan Capehart of the Washington Post writes: Were Levenson’s observations “inflammatory nonsense”? Depends on where you sit, I suppose. Is he a latter-day Donald Sterling who should be drummed out of the National Basketball Association? Absolutely not.

What Levenson wrote comes nowhere close to the racist bile spewed by Sterling.  Among other things, the octogenarian hater didn’t like his much younger paramour “associating with black people. I don’t get is why Levenson felt compelled to sell the team because he pointed that out.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnaroski”The Levenson case was a far more complex issue, and Silver was spared a far more divisive fight with owners had Levenson been unwilling to simply bow out and sell his stake in the Hawks. He had no public history of racial issues, and his 2012 email to general manager Danny Ferry clumsily tried to make sense of a legitimate business issue: How could the Hawks make game-night inclusive for a diverse Atlanta population?

Reports also suggest that he had previously explored selling his stake. He and his partners had agreed to a sale back in 2011 that was ultimately nixed by the NBA. Perhaps this was an easy way out although its damaging for his image going forward.

Maybe  Jason Whitlock-ESPN.com writes : Maybe Levenson has some documented, Sterling-like history of racial discrimination that has yet to be revealed. Maybe Levenson swiftly fell on the racial-guilt sword and offered to sell the team because he knows his life history won’t survive a hypothetical external investigation led by the media and racial opportunists.

Or maybe — and this is what I believe — Levenson is a victim of toxic, internal-ownership dysfunction within the Hawks organization. And maybe the NBA is about to lose a good owner and a good man, one who had the courage to speak out publicly for the removal of Sterling,because few people have the courage to objectively and transparently judge his 2012 email.

 Kareem Abdul-Jabar wrote in Time MagazineWell, the pitchforks are already sharpened and the torches lit anyway, so rather than let them go to waste, why not drag another so-called racist before the court of public opinion and see how much ratings-grabbing, head-shaking and race-shaming we can squeeze out of it?

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. 

I read Levenson’s email. Here’s what I concluded: Levenson is a businessman asking reasonable questions about how to put customers in seats.

Business people should have the right to wonder how to appeal to diverse groups in order to increase business. They should even be able to make minor insensitive gaffes if there is no obvious animosity or racist intent.

The thing that makes me mad is that Levenson was too quick to rend his clothing and shout mea culpa. In his apology, he wrote, “By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans.” But that’s not the message in the email at all. If the seats had been filled, even if by all blacks, the email wouldn’t have been written. He 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.


After reading through more than 30 articles I couldn’t located a racist man.   What I found was a desperate man.  It was no secret, he wanted to sell his interest in the Hawks.  Perhaps leave the game.  So the desperate man, took out his sword and purposely fell on it.  Mr Levenson’s sword was race, he blamed the black man, he will have to explain his reasoning to his black friends.

One day soon I hope we as a nation with regard to race will take a breath and listen to all sides before running to judgement.