Latest Sports Scores

Scoreboard

  • ALL
  • MLB
  • MLB
  • 6/27 7:05 PM EDT
    ChC0
    Was0
  • 6/27 7:05 PM EDT
    TB0
    Pit0
  • 6/27 7:07 PM EDT
    Bal0
    Tor0
  • 6/27 7:10 PM EDT
    Min0
    Bos0
  • 6/27 7:10 PM EDT
    Tex0
    Cle0
  • 6/27 7:10 PM EDT
    KC0
    Det0
  • 6/27 7:10 PM EDT
    Mil0
    Cin0
  • 6/27 7:10 PM EDT
    NYM0
    Mia0
  • 6/27 8:10 PM EDT
    NYY0
    CWS0
  • 6/27 8:10 PM EDT
    Oak0
    Hou0
  • 6/27 9:40 PM EDT
    StL0
    Ari0
  • 6/27 10:10 PM EDT
    Phi0
    Sea0
  • 6/27 10:10 PM EDT
    LAA0
    LAD0
  • 6/27 10:10 PM EDT
    Atl0
    SD0
  • 6/27 10:15 PM EDT
    Col0
    SF0

Hawks apologize for racially charged comments

2 PHOTOS
Atlanta Hawks - Bruce Levenson email controversy 9/7/2014
See Gallery
Hawks apologize for racially charged comments
TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 03: Adreian Payne #33 of the Atlanta Hawks poses for a portrait during the 2014 NBA rookie photo shoot at MSG Training Center on August 3, 2014 in Tarrytown, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

By CHARLES ODUM

ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Hawks released an open letter of apology to fans and city of Atlanta on Saturday, saying the organization "did not do the right thing" to correct racially inflammatory words and innuendos "over a period of years."

The apology, signed by CEO Steve Koonin, was released one day after the team announced general manager Danny Ferry was taking an indefinite leave of absence following his racially charged comments about Luol Deng.

Last Sunday, co-owner Bruce Levenson announced he'd sell his controlling share of the team following the release of his racially inflammatory comments in an email to Ferry and the team's other owners.

"We are very sorry," Koonin said in the letter.

"Over the course of the last week, the Hawks have let down our players, our employees, our fans and the city we love. Our shortcomings have been broadly shared - including how we have failed to operate well internally and externally. It has been humbling and, while we have read, seen and come to know many things about ourselves, our learnings have just begun."

Ferry described Deng, who is from South Sudan, in a conference call with the Hawks' ownership group as someone who "has a little African in him."

"He's like a guy who would have a nice store out front and sell you counterfeit stuff out of the back," said Ferry during the June call, which was recorded.

An internal investigation into Ferry's comments uncovered an email sent two years ago by Levenson, who theorized that "the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant season ticket base."

Koonin said the Hawks' failures were not limited to Ferry's comments or Levenson's email.

"We know enough today, based on investigations conducted by the league, by external legal counsel on behalf of the team, and information that has appeared in the media, that our shortcomings are beyond a single email, a single person or a single event," Koonin said. "To the contrary, over a period of years, we have found that there have been inflammatory words, phrases, inferences, and innuendos about race. We as an organization did not correct these failures. We did not do the right thing."

Koonin said the Hawks "must own these shortcomings and failures."

"To be clear, I am angry that this has happened," he said. "I am deeply saddened and embarrassed that this has put a blemish on our team and our city, which has always been a diverse community with a history of coming together as one. We should build bridges through basketball, not divide our community and serve as a source of pain.

"I am committed to seeing the Hawks change because of these past shortcomings. It starts by taking a hard look at ourselves, which in this case has been a particularly difficult thing to do."

Koonin said the team will work with a diversity consultant and hire a chief diversity officer.

On Wednesday, Koonin cancelled a scheduled meeting with civil rights leaders, and the leaders said they were offended.

Koonin said in the letter the team also will reach out to community leaders "not just now, but in an ongoing way to ensure that our values reflect, in the broadest sense, the community in which we play and work."

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.