Gentrification is real. Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson more or less confirmed it with his bigoted rant sent to his general manager in 2012. There was too much blackness in and around Atlanta for Levenson when became majority owner of the Hawks in 2003 with his Atlanta Spirit Group.
The local bars were too black. There were too many black cheerleaders. The franchise needed some white cheerleaders. He wasn’t feeling the rap and hip hop music being blared from the arena’s disc jockey, which didn’t exactly endear itself to middle-aged white men. There were too many black people in the stands. The kiss cam had way too much black love for his taste.
The fan base was too black. The black people, he feared, scared off all the white people. There just too much black for him. And that needed to change. Levenson wanted a different scenario. He wanted some country mixed in with the hip hop-flavor music. He wanted to whitened the cheer and dance corps.
The devaluation of African Americans by another NBA owner stole the spotlight from the NFL’s opening weekend. Sterling was one issue that NBA tried valiantly to clean up before it became one gigantic mess. The threat of a possible boycott by player moved the sale of Clippers on a fast track. The league was catching its breath until this latest bomshell about Levenson. This is a bigger issue than Donald Sterling.
There is a disturbing pattern developing. What are the player on the Hawks’ roster going to do? What will Chris Paul, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and other NBA players around the league going to do since African Americans make up well over 70 percent of its employees? Are they going to put their heads in the sands and ignore this as black Americans ramp up its monitor this situation?
In a summer of heat and rage from absolving Sterling’s racist comments about African Americans to the multiple shooting and killing of unarmed black men to the disaster on race relations in Ferguson, Missouri to voter suppression news, how do these men sit and do and say nothing? At the end of the day, these basketball players that we all say we love and adore, are all black men (most of them). In Levenson’s rant, it appears they are nothing but the center adoration of entertainment for affluent whites to pawn and fawn over.
It is reminiscent of the slave trade trade in which masters were always bemused by their black property. What is clear, though, is that Levenson has to go in the same direction the same way former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling went: out of the league. It is also clear that the NBA has a race issue with its African American fan base it has to fix.
The NBA can’t get get out of its own way. After months of being overwhelmed with the Sterling fiasco in which the billionaire was forced to sell the Los Angeles Clippers because racist comments, the NBA finds itself right smack in the middle of another race-baiting owner bigoted rant.
The Atlanta Hawks and the NBA somehow managed to steal the spotlight from America’s most popular sport to another NBA owner with racist and prejudiced views about black people. Well, the guess here is that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was so worried and cautious about getting fellow owners ousted because of inflammatory prejudiced statements and remarks and/or behavior they make or have made in the past is that the owners club has more than a few folks who are much more aligned with the thinking of Sterling than we all know.
Cuban didn’t make those statements of the owners because of happenstance. The opinion here is that Cuban and his buddies may have been worried about their own skeletons in the closet that could get leaked out to the media and to the general public. Steve Koonin, CEO of the Hawks, sent out a released statement on behalf of the franchise to distance the organization from Levonson’s explosive remarks.
“Today’s statement from Controlling Owner Bruce Levenson is extremely disappointing and the email that he sent over two years ago was alarming, offensive and most of all, completely unacceptable and does not reflect the principles and values of the Hawks organization. In partnership with the NBA, we will work to ensure that a new ownership team will be put in place that is united and committed to the Atlanta community.”
That’s a start, but this isn’t going to be good enough for the African American community to accept. But what happened with Levenson and Sterling is a direct correlation of history in this country. At some point, you have to stand up for yourself. Self-perseverance demands it. If African Americans sleep on this, examples of historical discrimination and inequality will only repeat itself.