Hello, everyone. Let's continue where I left off yesterday. I'm going to try and put the events surrounding the Atlanta Hawks front-office into chronological order. After that, who knows what could happen.
August 25th, 2012: Bruce Levenson sends an email to general manager Danny Ferry, CC'd to co-owners Todd Foreman and Ed Peskowitz, containing inflammatory remarks in regards to (some of) the Hawks fanbase.
June 6th, 2014: Danny Ferry, General Manager of the Atlanta Hawks, makes indecent remarks on a conference call between team ownership and other managerial staff.
June 12th, 2014: Hawks Co-Owner, Michael Gearon Jr., sent a message to Majority Owner Bruce Levenson on behalf of the SSG Group, LLC. Gearon Jr. states he and the group were "appalled that anyone would make a racial slur under any circumstance, much less the GM of an NBA franchise on a major conference call," in reference to Ferry's comments.
Sometime in July of 2014: Levenson self-reports his email to Ferry, Foreman and Peskowitz to commissioner Adam Silver. Subsequently, the NBA launches an investigation into the matter.
Sunday, September 7th, 2014:
- Levenson informs public about the email sent two years ago, announces his intent to sell the Atlanta Hawks.
- Commissioner Silver releases a statement following Levenson's announcement. In the statement, Silver "commends Mr. Levenson for self-reporting to the league office, for being fully cooperative with the league and its independent investigator, and for putting the best interests of the Hawks, the Atlanta community, and the NBA first."
- CEO Steve Koonin becomes responsible for overseeing operations until the Hawks are sold.
Monday, September 8th, 2014: Reports expose Danny Ferry and his comments regarding Luol Deng.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014: Ferry issues statement claiming he was "repeating comments that were gathered from numerous sources during background conversations and scouting about different players," during the meeting on June 6th.
Wednesday, September 10th, 2014: Adam Silver issues statement backing Ferry. Silver asserts the notion Ferry was relaying information from a scouting report when the comments were made. Thus, Ferry's comments, taken alone, "do not merit the losing of his job".
Yesterday, Thursday, September 11th, 2014: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained a portion of the audio recording from said conference call. If you'd like to listen to it, click this link.
Despite this recording, we may only speculate whether or not Ferry was reading the offensive remarks from a scouting report written by multiple sources.
Go back to the message from Gearon Jr. and the SSG Group, LLC.
It's in the message the Hawks minority ownership group expresses to Levenson they "are all too familiar with the current environment in the NBA and country generally from the fallout of Donald Sterling's offensive comments." Later on it is mentioned that, if Ferry's comments were to ever be made public, the incident would be "fatal to the franchise."
Gearon Jr. reminds Levenson he appeared on national television and condemned Sterling while preaching zero tolerance of racial prejudice. The Hawks owner was one of a handful around the league who projected displeasure after TMZ released audio from a recorded conversation between Sterling and his mistress.
"We trust commissioner Adam Silver to handle this matter swiftly and properly, but let me state without reservation: There is no place for prejudice or intolerance in our league, or anywhere else," Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores said in a statement. "That's not a debatable point. It's a first principle."
A statement from Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen read, "The kind of statements attributed to Clippers owner Donald Sterling, if true, are abhorrent, and not acceptable for the owner of an NBA franchise or anyone in professional sports. We at the Trail Blazers reject any and all such sentiments, and believe NBA leadership should take swift and impactful action in this case."
"It is shocking that anyone could hold the kind of offensive and feeble-minded views that are being attributed allegedly to the Clippers owner, Donald Sterling," Gilbert said in the statement. "The diverse staff members of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise are united in encouraging Commissioner Silver and the NBA to respond with swift and appropriate action consistent with a strong zero tolerance approach to this type of reprehensible behavior."
Sterling's comments landed him a $2.5 million dollar fine, an indefinite suspension from Los Angeles Clippers facilities and operations and he was ultimately forced to sell the team.
What Bruce Levenson and Danny Ferry have said do not compare to the abrasive statements made by Donald Sterling.
It is curious, though, that Marc Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, was the only owner to express concern about the impact removing Sterling from the league may have on the rest of the league.
What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent. There's no place for racism in the NBA, any business I'm associated with, and I don't want to be associated with people who have that position.
"But at the same time, that's a decision I make. I think you've got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It's a very, very slippery slope.
"Again, there's no excuse for his positions. There's no excuse for what he said. There's no excuse for anybody to support racism. There's no place for it in our league, but there's a very, very, very slippery slope."
Truthfully, I have no idea. To my knowledge, Levenson has not been fined but he has removed himself from operational involvement with the Hawks. How strictly can that be enforced? I'm not sure. As of now, it appears Silver has no intentions to discipline Levenson or Ferry for the offensive comments used to describe Luol Deng.
The league's investigation on this matter is ongoing, and subsequent punishments may be in order depending on what is found.
Where things become stranger is when you consider this tweet from Jeff Zillgitt, who claims even before Sterling situation erupted, there was some talk that Bruce Levenson would explore selling his controlling interest of Hawks. Levenson attempted to sell the team in 2011, but the only deal with any sort of traction was mutually terminated.
So, who is being punished? Right now, nobody. Not a single person has been struck down by the wrath of Commissioner Silver, who plans to leave punishing Ferry up to the Hawks. You could argue the NBA is doing Levenson a favor by not issuing him a fine, sanctions or anything along those lines.
In fact, Silver, eventually, is going aid Levenson in finding someone who will buy the Atlanta Hawks.
This story is still developing. If appropriate, we'll keep you up to speed.
World Cup stuff.
Team USA defeated Lithuania in the semi-finals, yesterday, advancing onto the championship game. After a rugged, physical and scrappy first half the United States separated themselves fairly easily. Ahead 43-35 at halftime, the Americans scored 33 in the third quarter and pulled away from Lithuania by way of scoring during many of their fast break opportunities.
Team USA awaits the winner of the other semi-final matchup between Serbia and France. You can guess who will be favored in the final, I would hope.
Other NBA stuff.
Over at TheDiss, Draper discusses some of the differences between the NBA, NFL and the MLB and how each organization markets their product using television as well as online streaming services. Meta, fascinating stuff, to say the least.