Everyone Doesn’t Get a Say

Posted on September 12th, by Timm Matthews in All, NBA. No Comments

I’ve officially had it “up to here” with everyone deciding who’s right and who’s wrong in our society. Magic Johnson has been on a Twitter rampage this week saying that Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry should be fired. This follows Hawks owner, Bruce Levenson, putting his share of the team up for sale after he wrote an email, 2 years ago, that was racial in nature. Now notice I didn’t say it was a racial email, just that the nature of it was about the color of Hawks fans. Both incidents, although involving the Hawks, are separate. Levenson wrote his email to the general manager and other top officials on the team, stating what he thought were issues the team needed to address. The issues involved the fact that Hawks fans are 70 percent black but they aren’t filling the arena, they’re arriving late and they don’t spend a lot of money on Hawks merchandise at the games.

I’ve read the email and nowhere do I see Levenson saying that he doesn’t want black fans or the problem is their race. Rather he’s saying his team has one of the lowest attendance rates in the NBA, and he sells a lot less merchandise than most other NBA teams. He’s stating the demographic of the fans and, like any business owner, is trying to figure out how to make more money. It seems to me he’s saying the teams needs to attract fans with more money to spend, whatever race they are. He even notes in the email that he comes from Washington D.C., which has a large black population, but they’re more affluent and spend money. He’s a businessman trying to increase his profits, like any good businessman should. He wants to know what his staff’s ideas are to market the team better. To me he shows that he isn’t racist when he starts a sentence with “unfortunately” we may have a problem that some Southern white fans may not like to go to Hawks games where they’re in the minority. He’s saying he doesn’t agree with the white fans who think that way, but if they do it’s a problem, and they have to fix it.

If Jay Z sent a similar email to his Brooklyn Nets front office stating that there are a lot of white fans who aren’t spending money and what they need to do about it, not a word would be said. If your business is hurting and the problem might be location or race or religion or gender, don’t you have a right to bring that up within your own front office and try to solve the problem?

Danny Ferry has to defend himself because he repeated what he had been told from others about free agent Luol Deng. danny_ferry_letter_090914Ferry’s job was to look into Deng’s background (part of which, by the way, involved him going to the same college, Duke, as Ferry did) which you might think would be a plus for Deng. When he heard some less than flattering things from around the league about Deng, he repeated them to the owners–not his words–the words of others. Because Magic and some others, who apparently are the judge and jury in the NBA, didn’t like what was being said about Deng, he says Ferry should be fired. If I’m not mistaken, Magic has been given a few extra chances in his career. By the way, commissioner Adam Silver looked into the situation and ruled that although Ferry might have been a little insensitive in his wording, the thoughts weren’t his and therefore should keep his job.

Owners and commissioners should take a page out of Augusta National’s playbook from 15 years ago, when women’s groups tried to force them to allow female members. They made their decision, were sticking by it and moving on. If you didn’t like it  – too bad. And guess what? Those who thought they could force someone else to do what “they” wanted…got nada.

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