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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Defends Hawks Owner Bruce Levenson's Controversial Email

U.S. Cultural Ambassador and former NBA basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar listens to reporters as he visits the Alemao comp
U.S. Cultural Ambassador and former NBA basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar listens to reporters as he visits the Alemao complex slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday Jan. 26, 2012. Abdul-Jabbar is visiting Brazil from Jan. 22-28 to meet with underserved youth in Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson drew a hailstorm of criticism this past weekend after announcing plans to sell his controlling interest of the team following voluntarily reporting a racially charged 2012 email, addressed to Hawks President Danny Ferry, to the NBA.

And while some have deemed Levenson’s 2012 email as racist, basketball hall of famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a different perspective of the inflammatory electronic message. In an op-ed piece published by TIME, the former Los Angeles center explained why he feels Levenson was following the proper protocol in making an business decision and not an acting out of racism.

Sure, there are assumptions he makes that are cringe-worthy -- but the questions about how to attract more white fans were entirely reasonable.

Well, the pitchforks are already sharpened and the torches lit anyway, so rather than let them go to waste why not drag another so-called racist before the Court of Public Opinion and see how much ratings-grabbing, head-shaking, race-shaming we can squeeze out of it. After all, the media got so much gleeful, hand-wringing mileage out of Don Sterling and Michael Brown.

The only problem is that Atlanta Hawks controlling owner Bruce Levenson is no Donald Sterling. Nor is his email racist. In fact, his worst crime is misguided white guilt.

News of Levenson’s recent controversy follows less than five months since former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was issued a lifetime ban from the NBA, and less than one month after the Clippers' sale ended Sterling's 33-year ownership of the franchise.


Check out Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s open letter in its entirety over at TIME.

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