Hawks apologize in open letter to fans

The Hawks took a step toward controlling the damage from a week-long saga that has rocked the franchise. The team sent an open letter of apology to fans and the city of Atlanta on Saturday.

The letter, signed by CEO Steve Koonin, states that the Hawks “did not do the right thing” to correct racist comments and inflammatory words “over a period of years” that have come to light.

The letter was released a day after general manager Danny Ferry asked for and was granted an indefinite leave of absence following racist comments he made during a conference call in June. An ensuing investigation led to the discovery of a racially inflammatory email sent by controlling owner Bruce Levenson in 2012. Levenson announced that he would sell in stake in the team last Sunday. So began what would become a public battle with the release of additional emails, transcripts, audio recordings and background reports.

The letter was sent to those on the team’s mailing list and posted on its web site.

“As an organization, we must own these shortcomings and failures,” Koonin wrote. “They are ones that I am now accountable for as the new CEO. To be clear, I am angry that this has happened. 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.”

Koonin detailed steps the organization will take in addressing the team’s issues, including a new owner, the hiring of a diversity consultant, Chief Diversity Officer and regular meeting with community leaders.

About the Author

Editors' Picks