clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

More details emerge in Bruce Levenson timeline

New, comments

Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski digs deeper into the Bruce Levenson situation with the NBA and questions whether the league would have had enough support to remove him had he not willingly stepped down.

USA TODAY Sports

Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnaroski digs a bit deeper into the Bruce Levenson situation with the NBA and clears up a few details along the way. Levenson and the league announced on Sunday that he would sell his majority stake in the Atlanta Hawks due to a 2012 email that contained insensitive racial remarks.

According to the NBA, Levenson reported the email to the league back in July. According to Wojnarowski, the NBA sat on that information and shared it only with a tight inner circle. Only a few details leaked out and that set off some panic among the teams fearing that one of their own could be involved.

Wojnarowski also reports that Silver might not have had quite as much support in ousting Donald Sterling as was originally thought. Some owners like Mark Cuban expressed concern over where it might ultimately lead and how the move might affect other franchises.

We found out on Sunday with Levenson but him willingly falling on the NBA's sword may have saved the league a big legal fight. Unlike Sterling, there were no previous racial issues in Levenson's history. From Wojnarowski's report:

"The Levenson case was a far more complex issue, and Silver was spared a far more divisive fight with owners had Levenson been unwilling to simply bow out and sell his stake in the Hawks. He had no public history of racial issues, and his 2012 email to general manager Danny Ferry clumsily tried to make sense of a legitimate business issue: How could the Hawks make game-night inclusive for a diverse Atlanta population?"

Why would Levenson willingly go down without a fight? Reports also suggest that he had previously explored selling his stake. He and his partners had agreed to a sale back in 2011 that was ultimately nixed by the NBA. Perhaps this was an easy way out although it's damaging for his image going forward.

The NBA still maintains that Levenson self reported the email to the league although Wojnarowski cites an unnamed high ranking league official as saying that isn't entirely accurate:

"The NBA and Levenson say he self-reported the email, but a high-ranking league official with direct knowledge of the probe told Yahoo Sports on Sunday that wasn't completely accurate, that the email had come back to haunt the owner within his organization."

That quote leads you to believe that others within the Hawks' organization might have had knowledge of the email. According to the AJC's copy of the email, the message was sent to General Manager Danny Ferry as well as Todd Foreman and Ed Peskowitz. Perhaps a fear of it going public and the uncontrollable and inevitable fire storm that would have followed led to Levenson willingly stepping down.

Going forward it's CEO Steve Koonin's job to run and the league will be assisting in the sale process. The Hawks are in good shape and despite this incident, ownership had done a much better job of reducing their presence after the additions of Ferry and head coach Mike Budenholzer.