Speed Reads


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar defends Bruce Levenson's offensive email

Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson announced Sunday that he would sell his controlling interest in the basketball team after releasing an email he sent two years ago that he deemed "inappropriate and offensive." Today, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has come to Levenson's defense, saying his remarks were "entirely reasonable."

Levenson's email, which he sent two years ago, suggested that the team had less white fans because black fans were driving them away. Now, in an op-ed in Time, Abdul-Jabbar said that while Levenson's remarks were "cringe-worthy," he still presented valid business ideas:

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. In the email, addressed to Hawks President Danny Ferry, Levenson wonders whether (according to his observations) the emphasis on hip-hop and gospel music, the fact that the cheerleaders are black, the bars are filled with 90 percent blacks, kiss-cams focus on black fans, and timeout contestants are always black has an effect on keeping away white fans... Seems reasonable to ask those questions. [Time]

Abdul-Jabbar goes on to say that "every corporation in America" trying to attract diverse customers faces similar questions, because "that's business." He emphasizes that Levenson's email was not racist and that Levenson is simply a businessman trying to help his team. Read the full article over at Time.