Another one bites the dust: Atlanta Hawks owner to sell share of team after racist remarks

Chris Rock BETIn the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, comedian Chris Rock gave a hysterical yet true depiction of wealthy white America in his opening monologue of the 2014 BET Awards.

“Now let me get this straight.  An 83-year old white man doesn’t like black people.  Is that news?  Come on.  First of all, a black person couldn’t look him in the eye until he was 45.  The first black man he ever met he got for Christmas.”

Rock’s humor and enlightening of racial strife in this country had the audience in stitches but that didn’t change the fact that a multi-millionaire was forced to sell his business because of his beliefs.

While some argued that Sterling having to sell the Clippers was entrapment based on an illegally recorded conversation, public opinion had already turned on Sterling, particularly considering NBA players secretly threatened to strike if he maintained ownership of the team.  A deal has since been made to give Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, another rich yet hopefully less racist white man, control of the team.

Apparently Sterling isn’t the only bigot in the NBA, a league which ironically makes the bulk of its money off the popularity of the African-American athlete.

Bruce LevensonSoon to be former Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is selling his team based on inappropriate and racially insensitive comments he made in the past.  This won’t get nearly the publicity the Sterling case got but it’s equally as newsworthy.

This was Levenson’s prepared statement:

“I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive.  I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests (i.e. hip hop vs. country, white vs. black cheerleaders, etc.) and by stereotyping their perceptions of one another (i.e. that white fans might be afraid of our black fans). By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans. If you’re angry about what I wrote, you should be.”

Never before in American history has it sucked so bad to be white and wealthy but I guess turnabout is fair play.  Rich white folks have owned everything in this country since they disembarked here some 400 years ago.

Statistics point to a severe and disproportionate lack of minority team ownership in professional sports which might be slightly skewed simply because owners of professional sports franchises generally don’t sell… unless of course, they say something inflammatory and are forced to.  Plus it’s not like a ton of people are walking around with an extra two billion dollars in their pocket to drop on a sports team, particularly not minorities.  Oprah Winfrey we are not.

Diversity in MLBDiversity in the NBADiversity in the NFL

We can argue about the racial and socioeconomic inequalities that exist in this country until we’re blue in the face.  That doesn’t change the fact that racial stereotypes remain and that we all have to do our part to understand and either respect or combat them.

Atlanta GM Danny Ferry’s comments further fueled the fire when he said that Miami Heat forward Luol Deng “has a little African in him.”  I’m not sure what exactly is going on in Atlanta but it ain’t good.  And a brief memo to Ferry, who like Deng played basketball at Duke, a school known until now for its smarter athletes.  Deng is African.

Danny Ferry HawksLevenson, Sterling and Ferry aren’t the first public figures to have their reputations tarnished through their foolish comments.  Mel Gibson and Michael Richards have been ostracized after their rants about minorities.

Listening to the likes of these guys when they’re untapped and uncensored gives us insight into their character.  That’s not to say all white people in this country are bad and all minorities are free of guilt.  Clearly that is not the case.  It does, however, become harder to justify the total lack of class of those born with a silver spoon in their mouth when the rest of us struggle to get by.

I guess them paying their fellow man a certain amount of respect is a little too much to ask for.

24 thoughts on “Another one bites the dust: Atlanta Hawks owner to sell share of team after racist remarks

  1. If Levenson’s statements were said to be so bad , then why has no one actually questioned David Stern’s mindset during the mid to late nineties and how he sought to sell the NBA brand specifically aiming at African-American youth and making the premise of “gangsta rap” and gun violence in the genre ppart of the ” big sell ? ” One size doesn’t necessarily fit all when it comes to this particular league’s hypocrisy .

    Has there ever been as much hypocrisy and downrigh stupidity among the hierarchy of of the NBA , NFL and MLB as been witnessed over the past decade and a half ?

    I would also like to thank the San Francisco 49ers , Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings for their ongoing hypocrisy when it comes to addressing the issues of spousal and child abuse . Way to go and it’s good to see you’re (these three teams) trying to send the message of continued incompetence and hypocrisy .

    Let’s see how much apathy is likley to be shown by the fans as well by African-Americans in general concerning this latest idioicy concerning the NBA .

    tophatal ……………

  2. I for one would like to know which of the African-American general managers felt there was nothing egregious in Danny Ferry reading a statement second hand to describe a player of color ? I wonder if they would have done the same thing ?

  3. Is anyone really surprised by this at all ? This time last year when Jason Collins came out, we saw the bigotry within the NBA now it becomes about race and the frigging apathy still remains . Nothing new just the same old story with the usual pragmatism coming from the fans and league in general . Now we have NBA analyst David Aldridge suggesting Danny Ferry’s remarks were not egregious . Only Aldridge could come up with that type of idiocy and then not look at what is happening in the country when its comes to the issue of race and the plight of young African-American males and those of a minority ethnicity .

    The NBA like the other three main high-profiled professional teams sports is littered with incompetency , bigotry and a lack of real leadership , the latter of which you espoused concerning David Stern . Look at how he dealt with Donald Sterling’s idiocy during his reign before his successor had the balls to take the bull by the horns .

  4. Not quite sure Ferry’s comment was racist as it could apply to Charlize Theron as easily as Deng.

    What exactly did “He has a little African in him” mean? Was it derogatory? I have no idea what he was implying, but to arbitrarily label him a racist seems a little knee jerk…But sadly, that seems to be the norm in America these days. Everyone so eager to slap that word on anyone who dares to point out anything to do with race…Especially rich white guys.

    What ever happened to the melting pot?
    What ever happened to sticks and stones?

    I don’t know man…I thought the country would become a little closer and racial barriers would become a little more blurred when Obama was elected, but it seems to be getting worse.

    If divide and conquer is the plan, then it’s working.

    If there’s any saving grace in this particular incident, at least Levenson is Leavingsoon of his own accord…Unlike a certain Clippers owner who was begrudgingly Clipped.

    For the record,
    I personally believe there are only two races of human beings.

    The decent and the indecent.

  5. I’m not sure if you’ve read Jason Whitlock’s take on Levenson’s comments, Al, but here ya’ go. Not that he’s an expert on race relations in this country but he does provide perspective.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11493472/jason-whitlock-bruce-levenson-atlanta-hawks

    I will say this. Levenson was trying to generalize how to best attract an entire fan base. Call it racist or not, that’s the way business is done in this country. I’ve heard bosses of mine do the exact same thing.

    Oh, and here’s a copy of Levenson’s e-mail that sparked the entire controversy.

    http://www.nba.com/hawks/copy-bruce-levensons-email

  6. And re: the Vikings, it looks like teams are finally taking matters into their own hands. The Vikes have every right to do as the please and sit who they want if one of their players gets out of line. They should be commended for that, I guess.

  7. And I have to tell you, Al, not that I know anything at all about Danny Ferry but those comments shocked the shit out of me.

    First of all, just by the fact that he attended Duke, you’d have to think he at least had a head on his shoulders. Plus Dukies take care of Dukies. And Deng went to Duke.

    But there ya’ have it, stereotypes rearing their ugly heads again. So why is Sterling forced to sell his team when comments like Ferry’s go relatively unpunished?

  8. This is what Ferry said of Deng, Bleed.

    He “has a little African in him. Not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back.”

    I’ve never shopped at an African market nor have I ever cared to purchase anything counterfeit so I don’t know if that’s actually what they do.

    Has Ferry been to Africa? Has he purchased something from an African that he thought was sincere only to find out later it wasn’t genuine? This is all pretty weird.

    I agree with you on the decent and indecent. And I also agree that we might be becoming a little too reactionary, knee-jerk and sensitive in this country.

    That being said, I don’t know that we can’t argue that at a minimum, Ferry’s comments were a little inappropriate.

  9. I hadn’t heard the rest of the comment.
    Taken in context, it does come off worse.
    Still don’t know that I’d label him a racist as that generalization would be dropped by a comedian and not garner anything but laughs…Still, he’s not a comedian.

    A GM of an NBA team should know better.

  10. Danny Ferry is a racist idiot… as are a great many Americans

    And evidently idiot trumps racist in this example as he was reading a prepared speech!!

    The internet sure does give lots of people the rope they need for their own execution.

    and having a Black President like Obomber certainly hasn’t help matters as much as it should have. Of course most blacks know that Obomber is an oreo who sold out their interests as soon as he could find a buyer… yawn…

    Now who really thought 6 years ago that ANY politician would be a worse Prez than Dubya? Wonders never cease…

  11. Indeed.

    While the comment may have racial undertones, I just feel labeling someone racist for a single comment of questionable taste should be pondered a little further. His friend and former teammate Billy King is asking for a more measured response as well. Billy happens to be black.

    …Does mentioning that fact make me a racist?

    I’m kidding of course, but I think you know what I mean.

    Those looking for something to be offend about will always find it, intended or not.

    Ferry’s an idiot for saying what he said, but that’s where it should end. Putting a white sheet on his head the way the media seems to want to do with so many, seems over-reactive IMO.

  12. The NBA remains an archaic and dumb hierarchy without a damn clue .

    As to the ongoing incompetency within the NFL I am waiting for the other shoe to drop , concerning this particular league . Misogyny , racism , and ongoing homophobia , child abuse and now spousal abuse . Will it take a female having to die at the hands of an NFL player , before the league and union actually pull their proverbial heads out of their lame and dumb a#s ? Peterson is an imposing athlete and his lame @ss believed using a switch was the best way discipline his kid ? This being a child not often in his custody . Wow .

    tophatal ……..

  13. We should have Ferry repeat those comments in a certain area of Tampa to see what the response would be .

    Let me pose this question Chris , bearing in mind the lack of action from the NCAA concerning on campus sexual assaults and the issues now arising in the NFL , why hasn’t the league or college athletics’ governing body had the balls to deal with these problems head on ?

    Just another tidbit . Jameis Winston is back in trouble once at again at FSU . And idiots believe this kid , is capable of showing signs of maturity , when there has been a pattern of bad behavior being repeated ?

  14. Yeah, Al. Winston should fit very nicely into the NFL’s cast of characters these days.

    And I haven’t heard anything out of Goodell the last few days. Where’s the man, the leader or the NFL, to say something wise and comforting about the state of his game? Or is he just hoping this all goes away?

  15. I’d hate to have Goodell drive me anywhere because his frigging @ss would fa asleep at the wheel . The NFL Commissioner ha s become lame and tire along with the ownership fraternity within the league.

    Noted sports’ columnist Frank Deford has to be one of the dumbest morons out there with the league can survive this all without any adverse problems . Deford doesn’t seem to acknowledge the fact women now make up almost half of the NFL’s supporters as well being parents and mothers of young girls . Perhaps he ought to look at that particular issue before coming up with his lame @ss observations concerning the league .
    Major corporate sponsors have all but threatened to start pulling their dollars from the brand with McDonalds , Inbev SA ( makers of Budwesiser brands and parent of Annheiser Busch) , Radisson Hotels in a deal with Adrian Peterson as well as the Vikings . Pepsi-Cola and now Coke . Those global brands alone spend over $400 million annually with not only the NFL but the other three major professional team sports’ hierarchies . That’s the sort of money the league cannot do without even with the billions raked in via television. Imagine perhaps ABC/ESPN, NBC , CBS and Fox following suit, not that is likely to happen , given their poor response in reporting these stories in great detail N GREAT and the fact those organizations (broadcast outlets) a remain overtly sexist . Especially in the case of Fox and ESPN and their pi#s poor track record , if anyone would care delve deeper by way of an investigation .

    Apart from the most recent piece you left a comment on did you check out the previous articles ? I think it might pique your interest somewhat ? I’ll provide you with links via Facebook (messenger) .

    tophatal …..

  16. DeFord’s an old school guy, Al, so his stance doesn’t surprise me.

    What does is that he hasn’t seen the potential decline for league interest coming from a mile away.

    You and I did. Why hasn’t he?

  17. When you have your head stuck up your @ss as the likes of Deford and Whitlock tend to do concerning certain sports’ issues it is never a surprise when the come out with their idiotic analysis of a matter .

    Love what Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers are doing with their season . How frigging awful were they last night against the Falcons ? By the third quarter the game was over . Never mind Josh McCown’s issues . They will have a hell of a time trying to play catch up within the NFC South never mind the conference and league as a whole . No chance of a do-over after that 56-14 shellacking . A disaster anyway you look at it .

  18. That game, Al, was only watchable in the respect that you had to see how bad they actually were.

    A buddy of mine joked that the Buccaneers were trying to win that game. That’s how bad they were.

    Um… I get that Tedford has been out for two games. I get that Doug Martin is hurt as well as Gerald McCoy and Michael Johnson. I get that this team lacks depth.

    But goodness, this town and this team needed a jump start. From what I can tell, we are no more improved than a few years back when we were getting our asses handed to us.

    For how long now have we been among the worst teams in the league? And we’re supposed to watch, why?

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