Hawks send letter to fans

The Hawks sent a letter apologizing for the events of the past week on Saturday.

The letter, signed by CEO Steve Koonin, was sent by email to those on the team’s mailing list and published on the web site.

The letter reads:

An Open Letter to our team, fans and City of Atlanta:

We are very sorry.

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.

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. 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.

As an organization, we must own these shortcomings and failures. 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.

I am committed to seeing the Hawks change because of these past short-comings. It starts by taking a hard look at ourselves, which in this case has been a particularly difficult thing to do. The steps of change for us include, but are not limited to, the following:

- We are working with a diversity consultant to examine us - our team and staff - and to train us to ensure something like this never happens again.

- We are committed to hiring a Chief Diversity Officer.

- We will have a new owner who will work to cultivate an inclusive, respected and vibrant fan base. All fans are important to us.

- We have, are and will continue to meet with 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.

We should embody civility, sportsmanship, and human decency and we will demand that we exceed these standards. We ask our staff and players to continue to do great work and to play hard. We ask our fans to continue to support our players as we all learn through this process - we should not punish them. We aim to win as a collective team both on and off the court.

Steve Koonin

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