The owner of a team in the U.S. National Basketball Association said Sunday he is selling his controlling interest in the franchise because of racially insensitive remarks he made.
Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson admitted making the remarks in an email two years ago, calling them “inappropriate, offensive and inflammatory nonsense.”
An email Levenson sent to Hawks official addressing ways to increase the sale of season tickets delved into the racial makeup of fans at the Hawks’ arena and suggested that southern white men might not be comfortable in an arena packed with black spectators.
The Hawks released the text of the email on Sunday.
Levenson told NBA Commissioner David Silver on Saturday that he intends to sell the team. Silver said Levenson’s views are in “stark contrast” to NBA principles.
This comes after another NBA team owner, Donald Sterling, was forced to sell his Los Angeles Clippers because of racist remarks he made.
The league had banned Sterling for life after an audio recording emerged earlier this year in which he told his then-girlfriend not to bring her black friends to Clippers games.
Former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer officially became the Clippers’ new owner last month after agreeing to pay $2 billion for the team.
Sterling had tried to fight the sale of the team to Ballmer, but it went through after a court found Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly, had the authority to sell the team. The NBA’s Board of Governors also approved the sale.
Sterling, who bought the Clippers for $12 million in 1981, had been the longest-tenured owner of any of the NBA’s 30 teams.
Levenson has owned the Hawks since 2004.